On June 28, the football world was buzzing when it was reported that the 2015 MVP Cam Newton had signed with the New England Patriots. The deal is for one year and a maximum of 7.5 million if Newton hits all the incentives.
While it was rumored in the offseason that Newton was a possibility for the Patriots, there was no mention of the parties that were engaged in negotiations, which is why it was shocking to fans when the news broke. This is the same offseason that Tom Brady left the Patriots. Brady is arguably the greatest quarterback of all-time with six Super Bowls in his 20 seasons with the Patriots. Despite all of Brady’s success, the Patriots are better off with Newton and Brady did them a favor by leaving.
From an age standpoint, Newton is 31 years old, which for many quarterbacks is the prime of their career. On the other hand, Brady is 42, going on 43 as of August 3. In the 2019 season, the Patriots were not their usual selves with Brady under the helm. While he did throw for 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, the offense was extremely limited given the lack of receiving talent and Brady’s lack of mobility. In comes Cam Newton, who has 4,806 career rushing yards compared to Brady’s 1,037 rushing yards.
The Patriots’ roster from last year remains the same with the exception being the addition of former Jaguars wide receiver Marqise Lee. The Patriots also managed to draft not one but two tight ends in the 2020 Draft with Devin Asiasi out of UCLA and Dalton Keene out of Virginia Tech. A strong case could be made that the offense Newton is inheriting this year is better than the one Tom Brady had last year.
Many will question whether the personalities will mesh between Bill Belichick and Cam Newton. Newton’s QB coach, David Whitefield spoke to ESPN on July 1 and was very confident that the relationship between the former MVP and Hall of fame Coach will do just fine. “Suggesting that Cam can’t adapt to Belichick is a lazy narrative,” Whitfield said. “Cam recognizes this as a singular opportunity. I can imagine Belichick telling him, ‘You have goals, and you have a chip on your shoulder. We have goals, and our shoulders look the same as yours — just not as big.’”
Despite Newton being put in the best situation possible given all the circumstances and inability for him to be able to have a workout in front of teams, it’s not a guarantee that his partnership with the Patriots is going to work. First, it’s not a lock that Newton is going to start week one or even be on the roster. He has not had time to learn the playbook yet, and the Patriots have second-year man Jarret Stidham on the roster and veteran journeyman Brian Hoyer who both already know the plays. Another factor is that Newton’s contract with the Patriots only guarantees him $550k. In addition, Newton’s base salary is just $1.05 million with $5.75 million in incentives. That gives the Patriots a very easy way out in case they decide to go in a different direction. In the past two years, Newton has also had a lengthy injury history including having shoulder surgery on his throwing arm in 2018 as well as having a pedal Lisfranc strain that saw him sidelined for 14 games in the 2019 season.
While Newton’s injury history is a legitimate concern, no one can take away the fact that the Patriots are getting the 2015 NFL MVP, who when healthy is one of the best quarterbacks in the league. Time will tell if Newton can return to his old self and if the relationship with the Patriots coaching staff will mesh well.