In the end, Cam Newton and New England Patriots made too much sense of each other. In a championship where every other initial quarterback opportunity was full, the Patriots gave the former NFL MVP his only realistic chance of being a week 1 appetizer on a competitive team. And while I don’t doubt that the patriots still believe that Jarrett Stidham is capable of being an NFL-level starter, the possibility of acquiring the 2015 MVP when the alternatives were Stidham and Brian Hoyer was always of interest to coach Bill Belichick at right price.
We could never know if Belichick delayed Newton’s signing time to coincide with the news that the Patriots had lost a third-round pick from the last of their series of league investigations, but when we get there in September, he won ̵
Go to vote for the deal
The facts about Newton’s post-MVP career
To begin with, patriots have very few risks here. They only have around $ 1.8 million in cap rooms, so depending on how the incentives are structured, additional space may be needed to get Newton to contract. They can do this by extending guard Joe Thuney or by cutting someone like Rex Burkhead, Deatrich Wise Jr. or Jermaine Eluemunor. If Newton were injured or unable to defeat Stidham, New England would presumably be out for only about $ 1 million. If you consider that the organization paid Antonio Brown over $ 9 million for a game last season, you can see how little Patriots have to lose by adding Newton.
Of course, that’s the $ 7 million question. If we knew that Newton was healthy, there is little chance that it would be available on the market for the minimum of the league. He hasn’t been healthy for a snap of the normal season since the first half of 2018 and with the coronavirus is unleashed in America this spring and summer, no team has been able to convince Newton to do a workout or physical training. It would have been impossible for a team to engage with him as an appetizer with significant money, even if it’s a better option than someone like Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew.
The chances of a healthy – or at least much healthier – version of Newton appearing for patriots this season are much better than some might suggest. The idea that he wasn’t a valuable quarterback from his 2015 MVP campaign is a selective memory product. Let’s take a quick look at recent history to explain why I’m optimistic.
Newton was not very good in 2016 when a Carolina Panthers team riddled with injuries went from 15-1 to 6-10. His line was hit by injuries and his highest catch was Kelvin Benjamin, who is now out of football. The Denver Broncos devastated Newton in the Super Bowl rematch in Week 1, and would ultimately waste time with a concussion before returning to the pitch. He finished in 25th place in QBR that year at 47.1, dropping just below the then-Miami Dolphins appetizer and the recent remediation project Ryan Tannehill at 48.6. (If you think Newton was made because of his injury history, consider that Tannehill snatched an ACL at the end of that season, did the following offseason again, wasted time with a shoulder capsule injury in 2018 and he still earned a huge contract after having had the chance to play in 2019.)
In 2017, while Newton did not return to his MVP form, he was still a useful quarterback. Despite losing Greg Olsen for much of the season and general manager Dave Gettleman choosing to make a disastrous investment in left-wing equipment Matt Kalil, Newton ended the 19th year in QBR at 51.5. He was effective enough as a passer-by and runner to lead a Panthers team to an 11-5 record and a playoff spot.
In week 4 of 2017, he held one of his most impressive performances of the season. The former Auburn star went 22 out of 29 for 316 yards with three touchdowns and an interception adding 44 yards running and a touchdown on the ground beating the Patriots at Foxborough 33-30. Newton also won his previous game against the Pats in 2013. His combined line against Belichick saw him post a passing score of 128.2, while carrying the ball 15 times for 106 yards. I don’t think Belichick makes his decision based on two games, but the man knows how difficult it can be to stop a healthy Newton.
Hoping to keep him healthy and build a more effective offense around combining his skills with those of Christian McCaffrey’s escape, the Panthers made changes during the low season 2018. Norv Turner has arrived, who surprisingly installed a more modern offense than Newton committed under Mike Shula. The Panthers used their first two choices in widths in DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, although the latter was injured. Olsen still wasted time and the offensive line was put together because of injuries, but there was more around Newton than it had been in the previous three seasons.
Newton played excellent football during the first half of 2018. With Carolina finishing 6-2 in NFC South, he was tenth in the passers-by (100.8) and 12th in QBR (63.1) rankings. Often one of the deepest middle passers in football, he was given shorter passes to throw and magically improved the completion rate to 67.3. The first overall pick was on average nearly four touchdowns per interception and produced nearly 280 yards from the scrimmage per game. Has been fourth in my midseason MVP poll that year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Panthers 52-21 in Week 10. Pretty quickly, it became clear that Newton’s right shoulder was a problem. He struggled to throw zip shots during the second half of the season, and as he fought for the injury before sitting down in late December, the Panthers collapsed during the second half. He underwent shoulder surgery after the season.
It’s important to make this distinction, because if you weren’t paying attention to the panthers last summer and the preseason, you may have lost important information. By all accounts, Newton has recovered from that shoulder injury. A field report praised the return of his deep ball, which had disappeared from the previous year’s shoulder injury. He looked like he was back on schedule to return as the Panthers’ primary quarterback, and while I’m sure there would be some growing pains, there was no hint that he was still bothered by his shoulder when the next injury hit.
Newton suffered an injury to Lisfranc’s left foot in a loss of preseason against the Patriots of Belichick. He stayed out of the rest of the preseason before returning for week 1, but when I watched Newton play against the Los Angeles Rams, I didn’t see a quarterback who was fighting for speed or arm strength. From how it moved and from how many steps it sailed over his receivers, it was clear that he did not feel comfortable planting his foot. After the problem was even more evident during a loss to the Buccaneers on Thursday evening the following week, the Panthers closed it. When the injury didn’t heal with rest, the Panthers put Newton in the wound reserve, ending his season.
While an injury in Lisfranc can be disastrous for the recipients, it is not an injury that affects career for quarterbacks. Matt Schaub hit the injured reserve with an injury in Lisfranc in 2011 and returned to do the Pro Bowl the following season. Taysom Hill suffered an injury in Lisfranc in college, and while he cost BYU’s quarterback for most of his last year, he was able to get back and move well. Newton is expected to be recovered from both 2018 shoulder surgery and 2019 foot surgery.
Is it possible that he simply took too many hits and became fragile? I suppose, but we have many examples of quarterbacks who have suffered multiple serious injuries and have still managed to rebuild their careers. I am reminded of Tannehill, who is almost a year older than Newton. Randall Cunningham faced an ACL injury in an era where he was much more dangerous for his career and returned to 35 years to deliver an All-Pro season for the Vikings. Steve McNair fought for an injury after an injury and was a passerby of the Pro Bowl caliber at the age of 32 and 33 years old. I don’t know if Newton will return to his old self, but it’s premature to cancel it.
Dan Orlovsky explains how Cam Newton will be used with the Patriots, saying that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will find new ways to use his skill set.
How could the Patriots’ offense be?
A healthy Newton must be considered the favorite to win the initial quarterback job in New England. Stidham was about to become the second player in the history of the league after choosing No. 100 to start his team in week 1 of his second season after not starting as a rookie. While the patriots were quite optimistic about Stidham’s chances of avoiding making a more significant move before now, the most we can say about the fourth round of 2018 is that it represented something totally unknown.
Before Newton’s signature, there was already evidence that the Patriots would change their crime. Even the most optimistic Patriots fan couldn’t suggest that Stidham would be Tom Brady. It would not have had Brady’s accuracy, the experience of reading defenses or the ability to avoid turnover. It would never have happened.
What the Patriots did in this offseason, however, was built around a heavier attack. They have put the franchise label on Thuney, which means the Pats are slated to spend nearly $ 28 million on guards this season, $ 6.5 million more than any other team. David Andrews returned after their starting center lost the entire season with pulmonary embolism, signed full-back Danny Vitale to replace retired James Develin, and then used a couple of third-round picks on the pitch. narrow Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi, both of whom were considered more blockers.
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With Stidham, this offense would likely have resembled a modern version of the attack that the Patriots conducted in 2001, when they had something closer to a 50/50 pass / pass division. Brady’s job was to convert friendly low thirds and protect football. It worked: the Patriots were eleventh in the offensive DVOA and won a Super Bowl with a defense that was only 13th in DVOA. The 2020 Patriots should be much better than those on defense. That formula would have been competitive with invoices for a division title even before adding Newton.
If Newton wins the job, the Patriots are likely to build something closer to the offense he was working on during his time with Turner in Carolina. With the panthers trying to get the ball out of Newton’s hands faster, concerns about the accuracy and efficiency that might otherwise have been done and the patriots seem to have gone wrong. He only had four interceptions and four gestures during the first half of the 2018 campaign. This is an anomalous value given the rest of his career, but it is also the only time Carolina hasn’t had a healthy Cam on offense when she expected him reached 10 air yards on average per attempt.
You may also see that patriots borrow concepts that have worked elsewhere. It wouldn’t be shocking if they stole some ideas from Greg Roman’s playbook for Lamar Jackson and used large amounts of movement to manipulate the teams and create opportunities for Newton as a runner. New England has always been aggressive in trying to keep up with the offensive curve and in trying to offend what is undervalued. In 2007, the team swapped with Randy Moss and Wes Welker and became a widespread attack. Three years later, he drafted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and turned into a 12-person crime. When Chip Kelly caught on with the Eagles, the Patriots were one of the first teams to really emphasize rhythm and time, even before Kelly entered the league. The Ravens may have beaten the Patriots to the limit, but Belichick will not cancel the league’s most effective offense as a gimmick.
What comes to mind is this: when the Patriots weren’t able to blow up teams with talent like in 2007, their basic offensive concept was versatility. Since they have had Gronkowski, Develin, Julian Edelman and a variety of versatile backrests, the Patriots have always been able to create a discrepancy. They could go three or four wide and still had the ability to block football effectively. When they sent 22 staff members and made it appear that they were about to run the ball, they had the athletes to get out or work out of the game and beat the base defense in the passing game. That’s how they won their last Super Bowl.
Last year, with Gronkowski retired, Injured Developed and a reduced level group of tight ends, the Pats didn’t have that ability to mask their intentions with their staff or the flexibility to switch from one concept to another. They may have wanted to make the ball work more effectively, but when Sony Michel was in play, he threw the ball 67% of the time; only two players (who played 300 offensive shots or more) were a better indicator of whether their team would run the ball, and one of them was full-back Patrick Ravard. When James White came in, they threw the ball 81.8% of the time; only three other players were more obvious. New England suffered both the run and the throw of the ball.
The Patriots did not bring Gronkowski back this low season, but by supplying full back and tight, they were able to restore a semblance of versatility. By adding Newton to replace Brady, they improved that versatility and added uncertainty in the only position they didn’t have it during the Gronkowski era. They were fine without Brady as an escape threat given everything else he could bring to the table, but if Newton is healthy, he can give them a runner who can barricade through boxes smaller than 10 or 11 people or one who can take advantage of as a passerby when the teams load the box to stop the race. In this sense, it is less a replacement for Brady and more a replacement for Gronkowski.
The vote: A-minus
That said, while patriots aren’t facing many financial risks by signing Newton, there is an opportunity cost that goes down so slightly. Of course, there is a possibility that his physique will fail, which would make the whole thing a waste of time, while simultaneously affecting Stidham’s confidence. If Newton remains healthy enough to absorb most of the preseason reps with those and then suffers an end-of-season injury in Week 2, the Patriots will have wasted their time when Stidham could have desperately used those shots.
Although Newton remains on the field and plays well enough to start, there is a possibility that this will not move the needle for the Patriots. If Newton is the 24th best quarterback in football, he will likely pass 9-7, it will not be good enough to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs and probably pass Newton after the season without finding their long-term quarterback. They enter next year with the same questions about Stidham and their future in the position, only with Stidham a year closer to the free agency and to the market much less inclined to support the starting options.
Check out the ups and downs of Cam Newton’s time with the Carolina Panthers.
In that dream scenario where Newton remains healthy and the Patriots compete for a Super Bowl, there is still a modest downside for the team. They were unable to persuade Newton to sign a multi-year deal or get any kind of option on him for 2021 if he excels as an appetizer. It is not clear if the Pats will have the right to franchise it after the season if it gets back in shape. They will be able to afford a tag for him, as the Pats are projected with more than $ 86 million in the limit space, but if his field has negotiated a refusal of tags as part of this deal, the Patriots will not have much leverage in sign it again.
This is an obviously smart move for patriots, even if it doesn’t work. Simply having Newton on their list when it could have served as a high-level backup for rivals such as Bills, Ravens, Steelers, Titans and Chiefs would have been worth what the patriots are paying him. For patriots, adding an appetizer with Newton’s positive side late in the process is almost a cliche. This is a good example of becoming the best offseason free agent signature.