The New England Patriots made waves prior to free agency, signing Cam Newton to a one-year deal and locking him up as the short-term answer under center. New England’s offense left a lot to be desired last year, and some fans aren’t excited about Newton running the show for the second consecutive season. However, when examining the other options, Newton is clearly the best choice for the upcoming campaign.
New England Patriots Right to Roll With Cam Newton
Weak Quarterback Free Agents
Cam Newton is not a great quarterback at this point in his career, and there is a reason the Patriots didn’t sign Newton to a multi-year deal. There are definitely better quarterbacks out there, but it’s hard to see the Patriots acquiring any of them. Trading for a quarterback is out of the question, as the market is reportedly very steep. Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t on the block, and the Colts had to give up a third- and first-round pick for Carson Wentz. The two would be only be marginal upgrades on Newton, and one could easily argue that they’d actually be a bit of a downgrade.
With that in mind, New England’s only options lie in an underwhelming free agent class. The Las Vegas Raiders cleared up their cap situation without releasing Marcus Mariota, which means that New England would’ve had to choose between the likes of Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Jacoby Brissett. Winston and Fitzpatrick are in the same tier as Newton, but they don’t have the same experience in the system. Brissett does have that experience, but he’s nothing more than an above-average backup. Based on this alone, Newton is the best option available for the upcoming season, at least for now.
Cam Newton Can Be Better For New England Patriots
Cam Newton had a rough 2020, but it’s hard to blame him for everything that happened. Newton only agreed to terms in July, meaning that he didn’t have a full offseason to pick up the offense and develop chemistry with the receivers. To make matters worse, Newton also had to deal with arguably the worst supporting cast in the league and missed a portion of the season with COVID-19.
Nobody could succeed in these circumstances, and that includes former quarterback Tom Brady. Brady and Newton dealt with very similar situations in 2019 and 2020, respectively, and neither passer was able to overcome the complete lack of talent on offense. Julian Edelman suffered an injury in Week 3 of 2019 and wasn’t himself for the remainder of the season. From that point forward, Brady ranked 21st in EPA+CPOE, 22nd in EPA/play, and 25th in CPOE. Newton, meanwhile, finished 2020 ranked 24th in EPA+CPOE, 25th in EPA/play, and 26th in CPOE.
2019 Tom Brady from Week 4 onward (Edelman’s first injury was Week 3)
EPA+CPOE: 0.042 (21)
EPA/play: 0.05 (22)
CPOE: -3.7 (25)
2020 Cam Newton
EPA+CPOE: 0.062 (24)
EPA/play: 0.063 (25)
CPOE: -1.0 (26)
— Dave Latham, Lifelong Bucs Fan (@DLPatsThoughts) March 12, 2021
Nobody is saying that Cam Newton is as good as Tom Brady, or that Newton is capable of doing in 2021 what Brady did in 2020. However, this does show that New England’s complete lack of offensive talent made it all-but impossible to play quarterback in this offense. The Patriots have tons of cap space heading into free agency and are expected to add at least one or two pass-catchers in the coming weeks. Newton deserves a fair shot to shine with legitimate NFL-caliber talent, and the Patriots should be able to provide that opportunity in 2021.
Cam Newton Helps Recruitment
Free agency is right around the corner, and teams need to have an effective sales pitch to bring in high-level. While money ultimately prevails at the end of the day, it’s still important for New England to give players some other reason to join the team.
Had the Patriots waited for the start of free agency to address the quarterback position, then they would have had a harder time attracting the cream of the crop. Say what you will about Newton’s current abilities, but he’s unquestionably better than Jarrett Stidham.
Finding an elite quarterback is the best way to compete in the NFL, and Newton is not an elite quarterback. However, his contract won’t prevent the Patriots from going after a better option if one presents itself. The quarterback currently carries a $5.06 million cap hit, good for 31st in the league among quarterbacks. By comparison, Case Keenum and Chase Daniel currently have higher cap hits.
This type of contract means that the Patriots will probably invest in a quarterback at some point during the 2021 NFL Draft. New England currently holds the 15th overall selection, which means they’ll probably have to trade up if they want to get one of the top four quarterbacks in this class. While Bill Belichick normally doesn’t trade up, he probably will make an exception if he falls in love with one of the incoming passers. Newton can serve as an adequate one-year bridge while tutoring the future of the franchise.
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