CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers were reportedly willing to invest $103.8 million in a five-year extension for quarterback Cam Newton because they believe the two-time Pro Bowl selection can lead them to a Super Bowl.
"We believe he'll take us to the Promised Land," general manager Dave Gettleman said on Tuesday after Newton signed a contract that makes him third-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL based on an average salary of $20.76 million a year.
Newton wanted a long-term deal with Carolina despite only one playoff win in four seasons.
"I'm thankful this opportunity came and it's over with," Newton said. "Now that I can focus on playing football and getting the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl and winning the Super Bowl, it puts me somewhat in cruise control at the moment.
"But yet, me understanding so much is going to be expected of me for more."
Gettleman said the extension took only 11 days to negotiate. It features $60 million guaranteed and will earn Newton $67.6 million in the first three years, a source told ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter.
The deal further breaks down to a $22.5 million signing bonus, a $7.5 million roster bonus due Saturday and a $1 million base salary this season that all totals to $31 million for this season, the source said.
The $67.6 million Newton will get in the first three years is topped only by the $69 million Peyton Manning got during that span in a 2011 deal with the Indianapolis Colts. That deal was terminated after one year when Manning suffered a neck injury.
Newton's $20.76 yearly average trails only that of Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers ($22 million) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger ($21.85 million). Both have won a Super Bowl.
Newton said getting a contract that puts him in elite status among quarterbacks wasn't his driving force.
"I've never been the type to compare and contrast wages more so [than] comparing and contrasting the most important stat of all of sports, and that's wins and losses," said Newton, who has a record of 30-31-1.
"I know I'm nowhere where I want to be right now, but yet that gives me more drive to get to where I want to be ... sooner rather than later."
Newton, the first pick of the 2011 draft, was in the final year of his rookie contract prior to the extension. Carolina exercised the fifth-year option on that deal last year, meaning Newton was set to make $14.67 in 2015 before the extension.
Newton said finalizing the deal, negotiated between the Panthers and agents Bus Cook, Tony Paige and Chitta Mallik, before training camp wasn't as much of a big deal to him as it was in the media.
"You guys are making more of a big deal about it than I was," he said. "With me finalizing everything, it makes this whole process easier for me, knowing I don't have to go into training camp answering these types of questions."
While Newton hasn't reached elite status in terms of wins, the only players in NFL history to combine for more passing and rushing touchdowns than his 115 in their first four seasons are Dan Marino and Peyton Manning. Marino never won a Super Bowl. Manning's won only one.
What makes Gettleman believe Newton can lead the Panthers to one?
"Because he keeps getting better," Gettleman said. "He makes plays under pressure. He won his first playoff game. Cam's growing and we're growing.
"This is a younger team and it's growing with him. He continues to ascend. ... And I still believe there is plenty of room left."
Gettleman said he's been organizing the team financially to be in position to sign Newton long-term since he arrived in January 2013. He said then Newton was his franchise quarterback and nothing he's seen the past two seasons has changed that.
The way Newton battled through 2014 offseason ankle surgery, preseason fractured ribs and a back injury suffered in a Dec. 9 car crash cemented his belief that the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner is special.
Gettleman and head coach Ron Rivera don't expect Newton to change now that the quarterback has a huge deal.
"Who he is and what he is is exactly what we want," Rivera said. "He's getting paid this money not to be something that he's not. He's being paid for what we believe he is, and that's our franchise quarterback.
"I'm like Dave. I'm very confident in his ability and very confident that we believe, as Dave said, to the Promised Land."
Newton arrived at the news conference wearing a blue suit with a Carolina blue flower in the lapel of his MADE Cam Newton clothing line from Belk. The player that just made millions of bucks looked like a million bucks.
He admittedly never thought a contract like this was possible growing up in the College Park area near Atlanta.
"That don't happen," Newton said. "It doesn't. I'm not saying that to brag. I'm saying that more so to say if I can do it, I promise you, any person that puts their mind to it can pretty much do it."
Newton was almost speechless when he entered the press room at Bank of America Stadium.
"I don't even know where to begin," he said. "Right now it's not necessarily settled in for me."
But Newton did know how he planned to celebrate.
"I'm going to pop a couple of milk carton bottles with Lucky Charms, a little bit of Cinnamon Toast Crunch added and get ready for practice tomorrow," he said.