Cam Newton is employed to play football, the Patriots have a good quarterback on their roster and the world — the NFL world, at least — makes just a little more sense today.
The news that Newton was signing with New England came out of nowhere Sunday evening (though it did help bury some negative Patriots news) but it was hardly surprising. For as much as the Patriots coaching staff tried to convince Boston media that they loved Jarrett Stidham, it just never made much sense that he, of all people, would be Bill Belichick’s choice to lead the team into the post-Tom Brady era. Especially with an immense talent like Cam Newton — a player who has given Belichick’s famed defense fits in their two meetings — just sitting out there waiting to be signed at a reduced price.
The reduced price ended up being the veteran minimum and a whole bunch of incentives. It’s the famed “prove it” deal, so there’s no risk for the Patriots here (according to reports, the MOST Newton can earn is $7.5 million — or $3 million less than Saints sometime-QB Taysom Hill is scheduled to make per season over the next two years.)
If Newton is the guy we saw in 2018, when he was putting up MVP numbers before his shoulder was shot, then New England got itself a bargain at the most important position in the sport. If he’s still broken, Belichick can move on without taking a cap penalty.
The only thing that seems to be up for debate is how Belichick and Josh McDaniels will reconfigure the offense to fit Newton’s skill-set. The changes were already being made well before Sunday’s news broke. The Patriots drafted a tight end and an H-back and seemed to be building an offense similar to what we saw in Baltimore in 2019. As I argued shortly after the draft, the power-run, play-action-heavy offense New England appeared to be putting together would work best with a run threat behind center. I’d say the quarterback with the most rushing touchdowns in NFL history certainly qualifies.
But it’s fair to wonder if Newton could hold up in such an offense given his recent injury history. We should also ask if it’s necessary, as the 2015 NFL MVP is so much more than a runner. I’d argue the gap between Newton and Brady — just from a pure quarterbacking standpoint — is more narrow than most people would believe. The one area where Brady clearly owned an advantage was in the accuracy department but I’m not sure if that is still the case with the 42-year-old coming off two consecutive seasons of inconsistent accuracy.
Does the offense really need to change all that much?
Compare Newton’s performance over the first half of the 2018 season to Brady’s in 2019. The numbers look awfully similar across the different types of pass attempts, with Newton actually holding an advantage in most. The most surprising result might be …read more