Tonight we learned that the Patriots have signed former Panthers QB Cam Newton. Both NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter chiming in that the team had signed the former MVP to a bare-minimum one-year deal that was heavily laden with incentives.
To quote Popeye, “well blow me down!”
In our Sunday column posted early this morning, we wrote that if the Patriots were going to sign Newton or one of the other retread QBs, they’d have done so by now…so much for that line of reasoning.
Now that the shock of that has worn off, let’s look at the signing and figure out what this deal means for the Patriots moving forward. The team has never had a quarterback with the physical gifts of the very athletic, albeit banged up and hurt Newton. He was the first overall pick back in 2011 for a reason. Built like a linebacker at 6’5, 250, in his prime, he could run over would-be tacklers and had the arm strength to heave the ball down the field with ease.
But he comes to New England, not the same athlete he was, hence he wouldn’t have been released by the Panthers in March. He is still recovering from that foot injury suffered last preseason against the Patriots when Kyle Van Noy brought him down awkwardly in the open field.
If he’s close, even remotely, to the player he was before, he has the ability to move in and out of the pocket and make plays with his feet. Something that Tom Brady couldn’t do, however, the Erhardt-Perkins system that Brady excelled in, isn’t exactly a fit for Newton, so if they are serious (and we’ll get to that shortly) about giving the reins of the offense to Newton, then they’re going to have to make some changes to the offense and mix in some of the Run-Pass-Option (RPO) system that we also wrote yesterday would be a fit for the offense with Jarrett Stidham.
Our good buddy and former PatsFans.com salary cap guru Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap was on Twitter this evening stating that the team can sign Newton without having to make a corresponding roster move. So, that block is checked. Although if Miguel’s early projections are correct, that would put the Pats in even tighter salary cap constraints with only about $350,959 available.
So, we’re going to read the tea leaves here without the benefit of knowing how Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels feel about this since neither has yet spoken on this new signing. Does this mean that the Patriots are not sold on the prospects of Stidham being able to run the offense? Nope. The feeling here is that this has more to do with Brian Hoyer than Stidham. Why? If the Patriots feel, either later in the preseason or during the regular season that Stidham either A. isn’t ready or B. won’t ever be ready to assume the mantle of leading the offense then perhaps they’re not sold on Hoyer being able to step and play effectively enough. While he knows the offense extremely well, a look at his play last year with the Colts won’t fill anyone full of confidence.
And if the team is really set on Newton taking over the offense, the feeling here is that the Patriots would have signed him to a two-year deal rather than just one. If he plays well in Year 1, they’d have another year of leeway to work out the parameters of a longer-term contract. That’s the way they’ve handled several veteran free agent signings in the past.
Something else to consider, it is now essentially July. Newton has to come into Foxboro and learn an entirely new offense (unless changes are made), with training camp beginning in less than a month. That would be no easy task in a regular year. But the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic ongoing, and no healthy players allowed in the facility for the time being, this will add to that difficulty.
With the 90-man roster now filled, the Patriots have five (5) Quarterbacks ready to go. Newton, Stidham, Hoyer, as well as the two UDFA rookies in J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke. It was going to be tough for those rookies to get many reps in camp before this signing…now? It is going to be even tougher.
This also means that the QB competition in camp just got ratcheted up quite a bit. Well Mr. Stidham, not only are you supposed to replace a legend in TB12 but now you’ll be competing against a former #1 pick and former NFL MVP. Time to put on those big-boy pants and show what you got. You know that even in Stidham does start, the first poor incompletion or interception he throws will bring howls from the masses for Cam… book it.
Newton’s signing is a low-risk, high-reward scenario that could (not a definite) have him as the starter in New England this fall.
Another thing for certain is that another circus is about to begin in Gillette this summer. That should begin as soon as Newton hits town on Monday.
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Offseason
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Brian Hoyer Brian Lewerke Cam Newton Erhardt-Perkins Offense J'Mar Smith Jarrett Stidham New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots QBs Tom Brady