Signing Cam Newton in 2020 was Bill Belichick's biggest blunder in recent memory

The New England Patriots tried to make it work in 2020 with a washed-up quarterback in Cam Newton, but that move may end up putting the Patriots back for years to come
New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles
New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles / Mitchell Leff/GettyImages

In a season to forget, the 2020 New England Patriots relied on Cam Newton to take over for the recently departed Tom Brady. That move might continue to hurt the franchise for years. The writing seemed to be on the wall for Brady to eventually leave the team when he did.

After the 2019 season, Tom Brady became an unrestricted free agent, and the buildup to Brady leaving the franchise seemed to be years in the making. I do think the likes of Belichick, Robert Kraft and the rest of the front office were likely very shocked at his departure and probably assumed he was going to come back for another couple of years.

When Brady left, that left the franchise in a weird spot. The 2019-2020 Patriots' roster without Tom Brady was mediocre for the most part. Brady's overall greatness at the position allowed for certain weak points of the roster to be covered up. When Brady left, the Patriots went quite a while without making noise at the QB position.

They decided to sign free agent QB Cam Newton, who had just come off playing just 16 games over the 2018 and 2019 seasons due to a serious foot injury. During those 2018-2019 seasons, Newton was passable as a passer, with a passer rating of 90.5. There was reason to believe that the Patriots could have made something happen with Newton under center, but that was far from the truth.

From 2019 to 2020, the team's scoring offense went from 7th overall to 27th overall with Newton primarily under center. The scoring defense also worsened, going from the best unit in 2019 to the 7th best in 2020. However, even though it was mostly a disaster for the team in 2020, the Patriots scrapped together seven wins, which has proven to be a huge mistake.

You see, that gave them the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, which clearly took them out of the running for Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. Now to be fair to the Patriots, none of Wilson, Lance, or Fields have proven to be franchise passers, but all of them were and are more talented players than Jones.

Perhaps if the Patriots had a first-round pick a bit higher, they would have been able to select Justin Fields. Maybe Fields playing in New England's offenses would have been a match made in heaven. My main point here is that the Patriots tried a poor Band-Aid solution with Cam Newton in 2020. I think the front office knew that the team was not going to be that competitive with the former MVP under center.

What they should have done was to have embraced a bit of a leaner year in hopes they could have acquired a higher first-round pick. That could have allowed them to take a higher ranked QB prospect than Mac Jones. And you never know, that could have worked out quite well for them.