Cam Newton is a New England Patriot. If you told me that yesterday, I would have laughed in your face. Funny how things change. In what has been the most unusual year of our lifetime, the Patriots have swapped out one former MVP for another, something most wouldn’t have even fathomed just five short months ago.
Here are my initial thoughts on the move:
There Was No Plan Post-Brady
After Tom Brady left the Patriots, most thought the Patriots would bring in a veteran like Andy Dalton, or draft one early in the draft. Instead, they brought back old reliable in Brian Hoyer, and basically announced to the world that Jarrett Stidham was the heir apparent to Brady. When Belichick decided to let Brady leave (and he did, don’t let the spin fool you), it seemed as if there was a clear cut plan that Jarrett Stidham was going to be the starter, and Hoyer would be there to pick up the slack if he wasn’t ready. Signing a veteran in June to be your starting quarterback is not something a general manager with a plan does. If Newton was the guy, they would have made a better effort to bring him in this spring. Learning a complex offense a month before training camp is an extremely tall task. This is something the Jets or the Dolphins do. Not Belichick. To me, this reeks of desperation.
Something Clearly Changed
In the past week, something must have happened to force the Patriots’ hand. Did Belichick come to the realization that Stidham wasn’t good enough, or was this merely a move to bring in legit competition? Stidham already beat Brian Hoyer for the job last year, so beating him again wouldn’t be an issue. Maybe the Patriots thought Stidham was acting too cocky and needed a push. Either way, the heat is on for the presumptive heir to the throne.
Best Case Scenario is Still Stidham
Make no mistake about it, the most ideal position for the Patriots to be in is one where Stidham cleary outperforms Newton and identifies himself as a franchise guy on a rookie contract. If Newton lights it up and proves he can still ball, he’s going to command a big-time contract in 2021. It’s a rich man’s problem, but it’s one worth noting.
It was reported that Brian Hoyer turned down more lucrative offers to resign in New England because he thought he had a real chance to start. Now? That seems incredibly unlikely. If he still wants to be on the team, I imagine Belichick would keep him as the third option, but there’s a chance he wants out after the Newton move.
Newton’s Deal is a Prove-It One
It’s been reported that Newton’s deal with the Patriots is a one-year contract worth the minimum, with incentives up to seven million. If this were any other position, it would be a classic low-risk, high-reward type move. With the quarterback position, that increases the reward exponentially. This has a chance to be a steal. Newton could have an MVP-type season and go on to be the successor to Brady for the next five years. Or, he may never play a single regular-season game. Newton is the ultimate wild card. The talent is high enough to swing the balance in the AFC East, and even put together a better season than Brady did last year.
Training Camp is Going to Be Intense
For the first time in twenty years, we are going to have a legit quarterback competition. Every rep is going to be must-watch, we are going to scrutinize each and every move, loyalties will be tested, and blood will be shed. (Not really, but kind of). It’s going to be a war for the starting job.
May the best man win.