Friday, August 7, 2020

Cam Newton’s a Patriot? 3 quick thoughts

So Cam Newton finally has a new gig in the NFL, and it is arguably one of the best in the NFL. Having been released by the Panthers this spring as they decided to put their eggs in the Teddy Bridgwater basket, Newton has been without a home, and without much attention until now.

With a genuine, proven Super Bowl level quarterback in the building, the Patriots are favourites for the AFC East again, and with his scalability, it will be interesting to see how he fits in the Bill Belichick system. Bill has made seemingly odd fits work before, think Randy Moss, but the lack of weapons around Cam could make this a difficult marriage.

Cam Newton is as polarising as ever

Reports have Cam Newton as receiving interest from just two teams of late: the Patriots, and the Browns. The best-run franchise in the NFL and the most dysfunctional franchise in the NFL. There is no doubt that Cam is colourful, in your face, outspoken, and sometimes downright cocky. But what people seem to be missing is that he is also VERY GOOD.

Cam Newton can be a little cocky at times, but he can sure ball © Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Newton can be a little cocky at times, but he can sure ball © Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Cam has been on the NFL shelf for far too long this offseason for simply that reason. With the Jets adding Joe Flacco as a backup, it’s quite clear the Jets just wanted an experienced quarterback in case disaster struck, a quarterback literally no one would want to start over their third-year franchise quarterback Sam Darnold.

Cam would not have been that guy. Cam is too good. If Cam’s shoulder is all fixed up he can throw a better ball than Darnold, he can read a defense better than Darnold, and everyone knows it. That’s not to say Darnold won’t get there, but he’s not there yet. And that would’ve created a QB controversy.

So I understand why Cam hasn’t got much love as lesser talents have secured jobs including Blake Bortles and Andy Dalton to name some others. Did the Bears move too hastily for Nick Foles? Possibly. Should the Chargers have strengthened elsewhere with the number 5 pick and signed Cam? I’m not so sure.

But Cam is back, and the league is a better place with him in it.

This is bad for Jarrett Stidham

It's really hard to argue this is good for Jarrett Stidham
It’s really hard to argue this is good for Jarrett Stidham

Fast forward to the Patriots and their apparent second-year starter Jarrett Stidham. Jarrett is now in a whole world of pain because he knows that right now Cam is the better quarterback. Sure he probably knows the system better, but he’s not got the chops of the veteran and he knows it.

But that’s not the worst of it for Stidham, because the signing of Cam Newton, even on an incentive-laden contract just proves that Belichick also knows that Cam gives him a better chance of winning. So even if Cam ends up not taking this juggernaut back to the promised land, Stidham’s chances of a long term gig don’t look good.

Now it’s not all bad. Stidham gets to sit behind an arguably top-10 quarterback and learn some things. But don’t forget he’s already sat a season behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Now is the time for Stidham to play. And maybe he will. But with Cam in the building his leash just got a whole lot shorter.

Because while Brian Hoyer was the veteran in the house before this move, no one was going to be calling for Brian Hoyer to be in the game (no offense meant Brian). But Cam is a whole different thing. I liked Jarrett Stidham coming out of Auburn, but Cam Newton just made his chances of NFL success a whole lot worse.

Can Cam Newton stay healthy

When you look at it this seems like a silly question. In his career, Cam Newton has missed one in eight games. That figure is much higher having missed all but two of last seasons games. But it’s the only reason for the Panthers to move on, and take another quarterback with a massive injury history.

Because Cam has 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns, and 58 rushing touchdowns. He is a weapon in the NFL. He gets yards, he scores points with his arm and his legs. Cam is scary when he’s healthy. But he has missed games in four of his last six seasons.

And these concerns are the reason he has signed a 1-year $1,050,000 base salary contract. Remember his last contract was 5-years and $103 million. That’s a big difference, and the only reason is his health.

Is Cam Newton healthy? If he is the Patriots have almost won the AFC East already
Is Cam Newton healthy? If he is the Patriots have almost won the AFC East already

With a shoulder injury in 2018, those are always scary for a quarterback, and a foot injury in 2019, the good news is the injuries are different. They are two of the worst injuries a quarterback can have. If you can’t get zip on your throws, or you can’t step into your passes you’re done.

But all indications are that Cam is fit and healthy. After essentially an entire year off he should be, and it’s unlikely the Patriots don’t know how to perform an adequate medical. If they’ve got this right, they will once again have put together a masterstroke.

So I get there are questions, but at $1 million dollars Cam Newton is a steal. If you can get him in fantasy do it. Because Cam Newton is probably putting up big numbers, and when Tom Brady’s dead cap comes off the books in 2021, don’t be surprised if Cam Newton is walking away with that money in a wheelbarrow.

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Ray Burton
Ray writes mostly in-depth analytical pieces covering a range of sports from a more statistical perspective drawing his inspiration from the fanalytics movement. Ray writes on the NFL, Premier League, MLB, NHL, NBA, and NRL.

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