The New England Patriots hope that ex-Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton can return to form in time for the 2020 season.
The New England Patriots have been wading through the offseason with a lot of uncertainty at the quarterback position, holding only Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as the potential starters.
However, in a move that Pats Nation has been suggesting for months, Coach Bill Belichick finally decided to pivot from one MVP quarterback to another.
Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the contract Cam Newton signed was for one year, up to $7.5 million.
It’s also a contract filled with incentives; Belichick and the Pats often heavily use incentives in many players’ contracts in order to both motivate them and save money on those on the roster who underperform.
Such a contract was also necessary to squeeze under the team’s cap space limit.
Before signing Newton, the Pats only had $650,000 in cap space, which led many to believe the team couldn’t afford him at all. Now, the team’s perfectly spent the rest of their cap on Newton’s base salary, and has effectively silenced any more theorizing on who the Pats can sign next.
No, we cannot afford Jamal Adams.
Reactions around the NFL world to the signing have been extreme. As with Antonio Brown, most NFL fans think Belichick got away with highway robbery and that New England’s back in total control of the AFC East.
In 2018, Cam Newton’s last full season, he threw for 3,395 yards, 24 TDs, 13 INTs, and rushed for almost 500 yards. It takes 10 years for Tom Brady to rush for that many yards. If New England can get a similar season out of Newton, there’s no reason to believe they can’t make a Super Bowl push.
There’s only one problem: we’re not exactly sure what condition Newton is in at all.
Cam Newton has a worrying list of recent injuries
Cam Newton is best known as a dual-threat quarterback who can put up good passing statistics while still beating you on the ground.
In fact, New England has especially struggled against him, going 0-2 against Newton’s Panthers and letting Cam throw for 7 TDs and 1 INT.
It’s tough to be a dual-threat quarterback, though, when you have nagging injuries in both your throwing shoulder and your foot. That’s the issue Newton’s been struggling with since late 2018, and it’s the reason he remained a free agent this deep into the summer.
The QB underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder during the 2019 offseason — after already having dealt with a torn rotator cuff in the past. Despite claiming that he was at “full strength” after the surgery, there was something visibly wrong with his play style in the first two games of the 2019 season, in which he went 0-2 with a 56% completion rate.
They were the only two games he played in 2019. He left the field with a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, and that was all she wrote. Despite the fact that a Lisfranc isn’t often a season-ending injury, Newton sat on the sidelines through the rest of 2019, undergoing surgery to fix it in December.
His sudden degradation has been met with suspicion around the league, which was amplified after the Panthers released him without much acknowledgement. There are different narratives floating around for why Newton has fallen off the NFL’s radar.
Some blame the Panthers for rehabilitating him poorly the way the Indianapolis Colts did Andrew Luck; some think Newton’s lost his motivation; and many fans think his all-vegan diet has led to him totally losing the physical athleticism he had before becoming vegan.
Cam Newton’s ceiling is very high. He tore the league up in 2015 when he won MVP and reached the Super Bowl.
His floor, conversely, is very low. If Newton’s shoulder and foot still aren’t fully healed, the Patriots aren’t going to be able to do very much with him.
Fortunately, a $7.5 million contract filled with incentives means the team can afford to whiff without spending too much.
I may not be a professional Patriots scout, but I would conclude that if Coach Belichick and the Pats are confident enough to sign him, there must be reason to believe he’s recovered.
If Cam can return to his regular form, the New England dynasty might not be over just yet. We haven’t yet seen what kind of playbook Belichick can draw up for a QB as mobile as Newton.
If you were looking forward to Jarrett Stidham being the next Tom Brady, I don’t know what to tell you. As long as he’s healthy, the 2020 starter for the Patriots will likely be Cam Newton.
2020 continues to be a bizarre year.