Simply when it appeared just like the AFC East is perhaps open for the taking by the Jets, Miami Dolphins or Buffalo Payments …
Simply when it appeared like Cam Newton was destined to be the NFL’s most completed backup quarterback in 2020 …
The Patriots and Newton agreed to phrases pending a bodily on a one-year contract that shakes up the NFL one month earlier than coaching camps open. The motivation-laden contract is value as much as $7.5 million after current negotiations that happened “quietly,” in line with NFL Community.
“I’m excited as I don’t know what proper now,” Newton wrote on Instagram. “All reward to God. … I hope you’re prepared. #LETSgoPATS.”
The Newton-Patriots pairing made sense because the begin of free company in mid-March, when two stunning strikes occurred: Tom Brady left the Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Carolina Panthers minimize Newton and changed him with journeyman Teddy Bridgewater.
However either side displayed endurance: Newton, 31, didn’t accept a sure backup job — like Jameis Winston did with the New Orleans Saints — and the Patriots didn’t overreact to Brady leaving or use a premium 2020 draft choose on a quarterback.
The timing of the settlement is hardly a coincidence: Minutes after Newton’s deal was revealed by ESPN, the NFL imposed penalties on the Patriots for Spygate II — illegally filming the Cincinnati Bengals sideline throughout a December sport — that included a $1.1 million advantageous and lack of a third-round draft choose in 2021.
The Patriots mentioned all the correct issues about their dedication to the second-year Stidham and absolutely they may pay lip service to an open competitors in coaching camp between Stidham, Newton and veteran backup Brian Hoyer.
However 68-year-old Invoice Belichick — the NFL’s second-oldest head coach — isn’t searching for a protracted rebuild after profitable six Tremendous Bowls in 9 appearances throughout his first 21 seasons main the Patriots. Newton provides him a win-now possibility if his surgically repaired proper shoulder is wholesome.
That could be a massive if, nonetheless.
The 2015 NFL MVP is 23-23 as a starter over the previous 4 seasons and performed in two video games final season. He has began all 16 video games simply twice since 2014, as knee and foot accidents additionally derailed his profession.
Solely a handful of groups, together with the Patriots, will enter coaching camp with competitions atop the quarterback depth chart, which extended Newton’s search in free company. So did Newton’s incapability to go to crew amenities and endure uncertainty-easing medical exams as a result of closures attributable to the coronavirus.
Newton’s deal is the primary main shoe to drop through the usually quiet interval of an NFL offseason. However not the final.
Different prime free brokers like pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney and cornerback Logan Ryan nonetheless want to search out properties. And quarterback Colin Kaepernick would possibly get a second probability from some crew now that the NFL is extra open to his racial justice kneeling protests through the nationwide anthem.
A league supply advised The Put up the Patriots stay excessive on Stidham, 23, as a doable long-term reply on the place. The fourth-round choose threw solely 4 passes as a rookie.
Newton’s addition improves the Patriots’ probabilities of profitable a 12th straight division title. Particularly if he can proceed to be an influence runner, giving the inventive mixture of Belichick and Josh McDaniels an opportunity to additional open the playbook.
As operating again Frank Gore, who performed for the Dolphins in 2018, Payments in 2019 and now could be with the Jets, mentioned not too long ago, the Patriots shedding Brady left the division “large open.”