The Patriots shocked the entire NFL on Sunday by announcing the signing of Cam Newton. The former MVP had been a free agent for the past three months after being released by the Panthers.
In nine seasons with Carolina Newton amassed nearly 30,000 passing yards, as well as 4,806 rushing yards and an NFL record for a QB with 58 rushing TDs. Newton will add a new wrinkle to New England’s offense in 2020.
The Patriots’ signing of Cam Newton may end up as the biggest steal of free agency, as Newton’s deal is mostly incentive-laden. This deal works perfectly for New England. With only $650,989 in cap space, the Patriots can fit Newton onto their roster. All of Newton’s incentives that he earns will carry over into 2021, where the Pats currently have $90 million in cap space.
Adam Schefter reported that only the Browns and Patriots had interest in Newton. With no other competitive offers and with Cam not likely to start in Cleveland, the Auburn product chose New England as his landing spot.
With Tom Brady at the helm for the last 19 years the offense featured quick passes. Brady would get the ball out of his hands as soon as possible without attempting to extend the play.
At this point in his career Tom Brady needs weapons around him to succeed, but Cam Newton is the weapon in any offense. He does not need as good of a supporting cast as Brady does right now.
Newton provides New England with mobility in the pocket and the ability to keep the play alive. While under pressure, Newton will scramble for yards instead of giving himself up and taking a sack. This will lead to a more explosive offense in 2020.
Something new that will be added to the playbook is the read option. This is a play that Brady could not run, but Newton excels at it. The read option will also allow Sony Michel to increase his production, leading to a more potent offense. The run-pass option (RPO) is fairly new to the NFL, but has been a staple in college football for years now. Newton will read the defense and decide to hand the ball off or throw a quick pass. It will take time for the offensive line to get used to this offense, but Edelman and even Sanu should excel.
Newton only played in two games in 2019, but he has lots of potential even with the injury risk. I do expect the Patriots' offense to drastically increase with Newton under center. The Patriots will threaten to run the ball a lot more, which will open up the passing game. That philosophy is how the Ravens and Lamar Jackson took the league by storm last year.
Cam Newton will be the Patriots’ starting QB come Week 1, but this does not mean that Jarrett Stidham is not the guy. It would have been difficult for Stidham to start this year after only being in the NFL for a single season.
It is likely that Newton will only stay in New England for this season. His performance in 2020 should lead to multiple offers next year. This will open the door for Stidham to start in 2021. Signing Cam Newton does not mean that Stidham is not the future face of the franchise. Belichick knew Stidham would take some time to develop after selecting him in the 4th round of the 2019 Draft.
Auburn ran a run heavy offense with Stidham, so he will need some time to adjust to the NFL. Stidham is only 23 and still has three more years left on his rookie deal. The sky is the limit for him, but throwing him into the fire Week 1 may hinder his progression.
I believe that Cam Newton will be the Patriots’ starter this year, but that could change. If Stidham has an impressive training camp and beats out Newton for the job, that could provide the second year pro with the confidence he needs to succeed in the NFL.
As of right now, the starting job is Cam Newton’s to lose. It is unlikely that Belichick will let Cam’s superb skillset waste away on the bench. With Newton at QB, the Patriots will sit atop the AFC East and make the playoffs for the 18th time in the past 20 years.
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