There’s a new quarterback in New England, and he has a lot more starting experience than the rest of the depth chart.
Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Former NFL MVP Cam Newton has reached agreement on a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the New England Patriots, league sources tell @mortreport and me.
Newton now will step into the mix to try to help replace former Patriots’ QB Tom Brady.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 28, 2020
The deal will be worth up to $7.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Newton later appeared to confirm a deal had been reached via his Instagram story.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 29, 2020
Newton has been a free agent since the Panthers released him in March after signing former New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal. It was an ignominious fate for a player who was drafted first overall by the Panthers in 2011 and went on to win MVP in 2015 before injuries sapped his value.
After a few months of waiting for the right deal, Newton will head to Foxborough. Provided he’s healthy, a starting spot likely awaits.
Cam Newton’s free agency ends in a very good place
Before signing Newton, the Patriots’ quarterbacks room was among the most perplexing position groups in the league.
A year after going 12-4 but failing to make the AFC championship game for the first time since the 2010 season, the Patriots were in position to start this season with 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer atop their depth chart following Tom Brady’s exit.
Neither player inspired much confidence, especially given that the Patriots’ offense sputtered last year even with a Hall of Fame talent under center. Stidham has thrown four career passes, one of them intercepted. Hoyer is 34 years old and has started just one game in the past two seasons.
Some went as far as to wonder if the Patriots planned to tank the season, but the Newton signing now gives the team a potential game-changing talent at an enormous discount.
As much as the Patriots have tried to signal they believe in Stidham, this quote from Bill Belichick in 2017 via NBC Sports Boston might show what they think they could get from Newton:
"I think when you’re talking about mobile quarterbacks, guys that are tough to handle, tackle, can throw, run, make good decision – I mean, I would put Newton at the top of the list."
“Not saying that there aren’t a lot of other good players that do that, but I would say, of all the guys we play or have played recently in the last couple of years, he’s the hardest guy to deal with. He makes good decisions. He can run. He’s strong. He’s hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things, beat you in a lot of different ways. We saw that in the game down there in ’13, so I would put him at the top of the list.
"Not saying the other guys aren’t a problem, because they are, but he’s Public Enemy No. 1."
If Newton can show glimpses of his past self, it’s hard not to count the Patriots among potential contenders again with him under center.
Even if the Patriots don’t retain Newton beyond 2020, a successful season would mean draft pick compensation (useful after losing a third-round pick) and being able to hold off the hard question of their future quarterback for another year.
Patriots players seem happy with Cam Newton deal
The Newton deal was met with strong endorsements from the Patriots’ players. Even a (disgruntled) New York Jets player praised the move.
Jason McCourty on Patriots adding QB Cam Newton: “I’m excited. The goal for any team is to have as many good players as possible ... Cam was an MVP”
— Karen Guregian (@kguregian) June 29, 2020
— Quincy Adeboyejo (@QuincyA18) June 28, 2020
— Joejuan Williams (@JoejuanW) June 29, 2020
— Isaiah Wynn (@iwynn77) June 29, 2020
Will Newton get healthy with Patriots?
As easy as it is to hype Newton’s fit with the Patriots, his health remains a big “if.”
The 31-year-old Newton has experienced a significant list of injuries in his nine-year career with the Panthers. The worst of it has come in the last two seasons. He had to miss the final two games of the 2018 season due to a shoulder injury that dramatically sapped his throwing strength and later required surgery. He landed on injured reserve with a foot injury in 2019 after looking like a shell of himself in the Panthers’ first two games.
Newton has had plenty of time to heal since then, but the risk of another injury is clearly high. That doesn’t mean the prospect of him on the Patriots shouldn’t be scary for the rest of the AFC, just that there are a lot of ways this could go.
The Patriots will be paying him little if he’s still struggling to run and throw, and will get a starting quarterback at a steep discount if he really is back. It’s low-risk, high-reward and classic Patriots.
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