Patriots: Winners and losers of the Cam Newton signing

Quarterback Cam Newton #1, now of the New England Patriots (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Quarterback Cam Newton #1, now of the New England Patriots (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /
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Cam Newton’s arrival to Foxborough has been the biggest acquisition for New England this offseason. Who benefits most?

For the first time in decades there is a legitimate quarterback battle in New England. Jarrett Stidham was all but crowned the starter for this upcoming season until Bill Belichick dropped a bomb onto his lap with the signing of Cam Newton.

Now the certainty that Stidham will be the heir apparent to Tom Brady is clouded by the arrival of a former league MVP who plays the position like no one has ever seen before. It’s the ultimate David vs Goliath battle as far as quarterback competitions go. However, we can use our better judgement today to assume that three-time Pro Bowler Cam Newton, can indeed fend off a fourth-round pick in his sophomore year.

If Cam Newton were to start for the New England Patriots, how much of the offense would look like the Brady-led offense we’ve seen the last couple of decades, and how much would it look like Carolina’s during Newton’s career with the Panthers? It’s the biggest screwball Bill Belichick could throw at the league, and I can just see him sipping orange juice now.

In a recent episode on Odell Beckham Jr.’s YouTube channel, “The Big Picture”, Cam Newton expanded on what he can bring to New England that they’ve never had before. “Coach McDaniels, you’re able to call some stuff that you ain’t ever been able to call now,” Newton explained.

And he’s right.

Newton brings a physical and dynamic style of running that Tom Brady could never reach, no matter how many avocados he eats.  With that physical ability does come injury, however, so offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, would have to be smart with his play calling if he wants to utilize Newton’s ability and also keep him healthy at the same time.

Let’s dive in now and see who exactly benefits most if Cam Newton is victorious in the QB battle, and who may not benefit at all.

Cam Newton
FOXBOROUGH, MA – DECEMBER 29: James White #28 of the New England Patriots scores a touchdown in the fourth quarter of a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Winner:  James White

James White plays the kind of role that Cam Newton loves: pass-catching back. A running back who can consistently catch the ball out of the backfield is a weapon that Newton has never been shy to force feed.

Jonathan Stewart, DeAngelo Williams, Fozzy Whittaker, Mike Tolbert and Christian McCaffrey were more than just security blankets for Newton during his time in Carolina — they were staples in the offense.

Like Williams and Stewart, New England has White and Sony Michel. Although Michel is not used as a pass-catcher, the interchangeable backfield is a concept Newton is used to. Throw in Rex Burkhead, and he can see similar playing time as Mike Tolbert did, with Williams and Stewart getting the majority of the timeshare.

However, as pass-catching backs go in New England, there is no one close to James White’s ability. Over the last two seasons, only Alvin Kamara and Newton’s old teammate McCaffrey have more receptions at the position.

You could argue that a young and developing quarterback like Jarret Stidham would rely on a security blanket like White, therefore elevating his usage as well, but it’s more likely Stidham spreads the ball around more than Brady has the last two seasons. James White was on a very short list of pass catchers that Brady trusted, which led to him being used so heavily.

If Cam Newton is the starter, then expect James White’s usage to stay the same, if not grow.  Newton has proven throughout his career he will feed the pass catching backs.