It appears that the New England Patriots quarterback room will once again be home to a former NFL MVP.
In an offseason that has arguably been the most tumultuous in the team’s history, the Patriots have made a significant addition to their quarterback depth chart. Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton reportedly agreed to a deal with the Pats.
The signing gives New England a star-powered, potential replacement for Tom Brady. After nearly two decades under center in New England, the future Hall of Famer signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a free agent.
As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, Newton and New England settled on a “one-year, incentive-laden” contract. While details of the contract will be forthcoming, it is being characterized as a low-risk deal for New England, with a potentially high reward.
When healthy, Newton has been a difference-maker. He has posted at least 3,000 passing yards and 300 rushing yards each season from 2011 to 2018. He won the NFL MVP award in 2015 when he threw a career-high 35 touchdown passes while leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a trip to the Super Bowl.
Despite continuing to play largely at a high-level, Newton has been limited by both shoulder and foot injuries. The 31-year-old had only made two starts in the Panthers’ last 18 games. As a result, Carolina decided to move on from Newton after nine seasons. Following their release of the former MVP, the Panthers signed former New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to take over as the starter under new coach Matt Rhule.
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Although reports continued to circulate that Newton was willing to accept either a starting or back-up role in the right situation, Newton remained a free agent throughout much of the offseason. With his signing in New England, Newton will undoubtedly compete for the starting quarterback position, as he attempts to re-establish himself in the upper echelon of NFL signal-callers.
Theoretically, Newton could provide the Patriots with a new dimension offensively with his running ability. Should he be able to return to form, he is likely to help New England maintain their status as playoff contenders.
Following Brady’s departure, it was widely expected that New England was content to start Jarrett Stidham at the position in 2020. The team did not draft a quarterback in the 2020 NFL draft, and added veteran Brian Hoyer to field an expected back-up role. While it cannot be immediately assumed that Newton will supplant Stidham as the starter, the quarterback competition in New England has definitely become much more interesting.
In addition to Stidham and Hoyer, Newton joins undrafted free agents J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke on the Patriots quarterback depth chart. The team is expected to open training camp on July 28 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC