Cam Newton Signing a No-Brainer for the Patriots

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There I was enjoying a nice, relaxing Sunday evening, leisurely watching another human cook and eat other humans when all hell broke loose (I was watching Hannibal on Netflix, FYI).  The news of Cam Newton to the New England Patriots lights up my phone and my attention immediately shifts.


Photo courtesy of The Boston Herald

After the initial shock wears off, I find the details of the contract - one year, a little over $1 million, worth up to $7.5 million with incentives.  My next thought is DUH.  For that little money, the move seems like a no-brainer.  The phrase "low-risk, high-reward" gets thrown around a lot with the Patriots, as they like to go bargain shopping during free agency.  However to me, this is the ultimate "low-risk, high-reward" move of the Bill Belichick era.
This isn't like the recent signings of guys like Josh Gordon or Antonio Brown; talented players with some baggage that could manifest at any second.  I'll admit, like most Pats fans, I used that phrase when talking about both of those moves; mainly with Gordon.  It was, "great, if they come in and play to their potential, they'll be a major asset, and if they act up, Bill will cut ties, no harm no foul."  Not exactly true.  With Gordon and Brown, there were some glaring risks.

There was the risk that at any point in the season, for one reason or another, they could be gone.  Ultimately, it happened with both.  In Gordon's first year, he had started to become a key part of the offense, a guy Tom Brady had developed some chemistry with.  Then in late December, as the team was preparing for its Super Bowl run, he was suspended indefinitely, leaving what was thought to be a major hole.

Now, it didn't come back to bite the Pats, as they went on to win the Super Bowl in spite of it, but that was the risk that came with Gordon.  Similarly, Brown lasted just one game with the Patriots because of all of his off-field nonsense.  Two guys that were brought in to fill an immediate need, but came with the caveat that at any second, they could be gone and that need is all of a sudden glaring again.

With Newton, I don't see that type of risk.  For the past three months, the team has seemingly been preparing for a season with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback.  Players and coaches alike have been hyping him up and acknowledging his abilities.  Now, you bring in a veteran and former MVP for cheap money.  Newton immediately becomes the most talented quarterback in the room, and you could argue the most athletic player on the offense.

I know people are torn on Newton as a player.  His lasting image - and rightfully so - is him fumbling in the Super Bowl, and failing to even attempt to recover it.  That's a hard image to shake loose.  You can point to the fact that he has lost the last 8 games that he has started in, and hasn't thrown a touchdown since December 2, 2018.  There's the fact that he's had just three winning seasons in his 9-year-career.  All of these are legitimate concerns.

However, his athletic ability and physical talent are undeniable.  There is a reason that after the news broke, a lot of current and former players took to Twitter to express their excitement and congratulations.  They've seen first hand what he can do on the field.

The Patriots coaching staff, and fans, have been championing Stidham's mobility.  A mobile quarterback is something that the Patriots haven't had in maybe forever.  Brady might be one of the best at moving in the pocket, but once he got outside, he ran like he had a parachute strapped to his back.  Before Lamar Jackson came along, Newton was the top dual-threat quarterback in the league.  He's rushed for 4800 yards and 58 touchdowns in his career.

However, because of that, Newton has taken quite a beating over the years.  He's been sacked 35 times or more in 7 of the 8 full seasons he played.  To put that into perspective, Brady has been sacked 35 times or more in 4 of his 18 seasons as a starter.

That's why the biggest risk - not even risk, a question mark - in my eyes surrounds Newton's health.  Newton is coming off of a foot injury, and he's had shoulder issues in the past as well.  As a quarterback, especially a mobile one, those are two significant body parts.  Will Newton be the player he was, or have injuries derailed his career?

At the very best, you get a healthy and motivated Newton, and according to his social media that's what he is.  If that's the case, the Patriots are once again a playoff team.  I'm not sure if he brings them to the Super Bowl, but playoffs are likely.  It also gives Stidham another year to develop and learn from a veteran quarterback.  Newton adds a dynamic to your offense that you've never had before.  He allows McDaniels to draw up somethings that opposing defense have never seen from New England.

At the very least, Newton's not who he once was, but his presence gives Stidham some viable competition during camp.  It also gives him another veteran to learn from.  Worst case scenario, Newton is washed up and he doesn't even make the team.

At which point the Patriots are back to where everybody expected them to be this year, with a young, unproven quarterback eager for an opportunity.



Follow Derek on Twitter @mcvay34

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Cam Newton Signing a No-Brainer for the Patriots
Cam Newton Signing a No-Brainer for the Patriots
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