Bill Belichick, Patriots
Nov 15, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Patriots smart to sign Cam Newton for hidden reason

The New England Patriots brought Cam Newton back on Friday for a one-year deal, and it actually increases their options.

Eight touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. Not exactly a stat line to get the masses excited for 2021 if you’re the New England Patriots.

However, that’s exactly the line Cam Newton had as the team’s quarterback in 2020. Now, he’s coming back for another campaign. On Friday, Newton signed a one-year, $5 million deal which could become worth near $14 million with incentives.

On the surface, it seems easy enough to understand. The Patriots got a look at Newton last year and feel with better weapons — and let’s be honest, it’s almost impossible to have the same horrid lack of weaponry again — he has to improve to decent.

 

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However, there are a few other reasons to sign Newton.

For starters, the money is minimal and certainly in line with a backup quarterback. Heck, Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota got more money last year with the Dallas Cowboys and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively.

Additionally, because the money is so minute, the Patriots should have no reservations about drafting a quarterback in the first round to compete immediately with Newton. If head coach Bill Belichick has an opportunity to select Trey Lance, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or even Mac Jones, it has to be, at the minimum, seriously considered.

Finally, the hidden benefit of Newton’s deal. As the Patriots enter free agency on Monday (tampering, then actual free agency begins Wednesday), they can tout an actual starting quarterback in Newton, who has league-wide respect from players. Newton won the MVP in 2015. Although he’s clearly not the same player who took home that hardware, his name and talent matter.

 

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New England will have a much easier time talking a fee-agent receiver into coming to Foxboro with Newton, than it would have without him.

Ultimately, the Patriots know that barring a huge resurgence from Newton, they need someone else manning the position and soon. Perhaps that’s in 2021 if a rookie comes in and outplays the veteran throughout the summer. If not, it’s certainly 2022, when Newton is once again scheduled to hit free agency.

For now, the Patriots have secured a better quarterback than Jarrett Stidham, who sat atop the depth chart without Newton in town. He also gives New England something to sell to receiver in free agency, and that’s worth $5 million on its own.

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