It still doesn’t feel real, but I suppose that’s 2020 for you. Tom Brady has moved onto Tampa Bay, bringing Gronk with him. Brady has replaced Jameis Winston, who is now on the sidelines in New Orleans, hoping to inherit the job Drew Brees is allegedly giving up after one more year. The Patriots bypassed drafting a QB in this year’s draft, instead opting to tell the world they were rolling with the unproven Jarrett Stidham. Until they signed Cam Newton, former league MVP, to a league minimum contract and got the entire football world talking, that is.
This off season, there was a lot of quarterback movement. Nick Foles moving to Chicago made sense. The Bears wanted to give Mitch competition without breaking the bank or ruining his confidence. Foles was the right guy to bring in there. Andy Dalton, the long time Cincinnati Bengals starter, got his walking papers and moved to Dallas to be Dak Prescott’s backup. That move always seemed like Dallas trying to tell Dak to sign the damn deal but for Dalton, the only real benefit seems to be buying himself a year closer to home. That’s not a job he’s going to win. Phillip Rivers went to the Colts and Teddy Bridgewater went to the Panthers, effectively making Cam Newton a free agent.
There seems to be this consensus that the rest of the league held off on signing Newton because of his health but did any other team truly make sense for him as a landing spot? Chicago and Dallas certainly didn’t make sense. The Redskins want to give Haskins a chance to develop without added pressure from having a former MVP looking over his shoulder. The same could be said for the Browns and Baker Mayfield, although there is more of a “win now” mentality in Cleveland. If Baker falters this year and Cam turns out to be healthy, I’m sure there will be many Cleveland fans asking themselves if their team made a mistake, playing the “what if” game. Jacksonville seems to be doubling down on Garner Minshew, which many people, myself included, thought would be the landing spot for Andy Dalton or Cam Newton one.
Cam Newton to New England always made sense though. Belichick has always loved Cam Newton. Newton was a guy he always gushed over and probably batted his eyebrows while doing so. That’s Belichick for ya. Now he’s got a chance to work with Cam Newton in the post Brady era and for Bill B (never to be confused with Cardi B) this is the ultimate win-win situation. If Cam’s healthy, which is a big if, the Patriots have a proven veteran, who happens to be the greatest rushing QB of all time and is determined to prove he still has gas in the tank. A healthy Cam Newton is easily the starter in New England and the Patriots cruise to another division title. If Cam’s not healthy or ready to go, the Patriots roll with Stidham as they’ve claimed they would all along and only spent the league minimum for a chance to work with Superman.
The Patriots are still loaded, regardless of who winds up starting at QB. Their offensive line is still one of the best in football. They’ve made efforts to improve their defense. Drafting two blocking tight ends in this year’s draft seems to indicate that they’ll be rushing the ball more, with both Sony Michel and Damien Harris under contract, as well as receiving option James White. Julian Edelman is the kind of receiver Cam Newton loves or could serve as a security blanket for Stidham. N’Keal Harry didn’t set the world on fire as a rookie but is still a red zone threat and should be a bigger part of this team’s offense this year. If Cam Newton is ready to go and wins this job, it’s kind of scary how good this team could be. If Stidham wins the job and needs to be more of a game manager his first year starting, he has all the tools around him to do so effectively.
For the rest of this off season, all eyes are going to be on Cam Newton and his health. Yes, his body has been banged up from being a rushing QB for years in the league. Yes, he’s recovering from a pretty serious surgery. Yes, Carolina was all too eager to move on from their former overall number 1 selection. The skepticism about his health is valid. That being said, there is cause for optimism too. Let’s not forget that Newton was playing top notch football during the first 8 games of the 2018 season, before suffering a shoulder injury. The foot injury took him out in Week 2 of the 2019 season is obviously still a huge concern for a QB that’s known for his rushing abilities. That being said, he’s had almost a year to heal and get ready for this. Cam’s a proven competitor who has never won a Super Bowl ring and the team he played his whole career for just cut bait with him. He’s obviously got something to prove. What better way to earn redemption than coming to New England and leaving it all on the field? If Cam’s still got it, America loves a comeback story and this would be a great one. If he doesn’t and its truly Stidham’s time to step up, then the story shifts to Bill Belichick. Can he rebuild a dynasty with another unproven QB? No matter which QB gets the job, the drama is there. Is it time for football yet?