Cam is ready to earn those $$

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) directs the team’s offense against the Seattle Seahawks during the first quarter in NFC Divisional Playoff action at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015.

When I woke up Wednesday and turned on the TV, the NFL Network was all abuzz with news of Cam Newton’s new contract.

By now you’ve probably heard that it is a five-year extension that will pay him a reported $103.8 million.

I won’t bother to argue about how crazy it is to pay any person on the entire planet $21 million a year. That is pretty self-explanatory.

Cam and his agent felt like he had been cheated by the new collective bargaining agreement that limited him to “only” $22 million over his first four seasons. Oh, boo hoo. I’ll try to shed a tear as I count change to buy something off the McDonald’s dollar menu.

The CBA was right in my book. We shouldn’t have rookies coming into the league getting $60 million contracts like Sam Bradford did the year before Newton. Players need to show they deserve the money.

Still, the situation is what it is, to borrow a John Fox cliche.

Since all QBs are overpaid, let’s talk instead about something that one of the announcers said. If Newton deserves $21 million a year, then Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck should be making $25 million by comparison.

The thinking is that Cam has been more hype than substance, and there are several better QBs in the league.

Yes, as a number one overall draft pick, Newton came in with a lot of hype. And his Superman poses in the end zone further promoted that hype.

Still, to say that Cam hasn’t shown substance is wrong.

In his first season, Cam passed and rushed for 4,757 yards and 35 TDs.

While his passing yards went down in each of the next three seasons, 2012 and 2013 saw his efficiency go up. He was throwing less often, but doing more with those throws.

Some want to say that Cam regressed last season, but let’s look at the big picture. He had ankle surgery and it didn’t go as well as expected. He was hobbling half the season and feeling unsure of his base on throws and his cuts when running.

Also, because of the salary cap, bad attitudes and other reasons, the entire receiving corps was replaced. Cam needed practice time to get up to speed with his new WRs, but he was hurt and didn’t get that time. So the whole offense was growing on the fly in 2014.

Despite all that, Cam’s passing and running still had him 16th in ESPN’s QBR standings, a quarterback rating that takes more contributions into account than the old QB rating system.

The Panthers learned a lot about their receiving corps last year and believe this group will be pretty good this season.

One of Cam’s weaknesses has been a tendency to throw high, so the team went out and grabbed a bunch of tall receivers.

Kelvin Benjamin is 6-foot-5. Rookie Devin Funchess, Stephen Hill and Marcus Lucas are 6-foot-4. Brenton Bersin is 6-foot-3.

Tight ends Greg Olsen, Ed Dickson, Brandon Williams and Kevin Greene are all 6-foot-4 or taller.

Ted Ginn Jr. and Philly Brown are only 5-foot-11 each, but their job is to run under the ball, not jump up to catch it.

Carolina goes from wondering who was going to catch the ball last year to debating over who to cut this summer.

And let’s not forget that Byron Bell was rated as one of the worst left tackles in all of football last season. With Michael Oher hopefully protecting Cam’s blind side better, look for Cam to show he belongs in the discussion of top 10 QBs.