Cam Newton became one of the major storylines of the NFL off-season after his release from the Carolina Panthers. The 31-year-old went unsigned for four months before the New England Patriots stunned the league by signing the quarterback to a low-cost one-year deal.
Tom Brady had previously made the decision to leave the Patriots after 20 years with the franchise to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It left Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham as the potential starters for New England in a post-Brady era. However, the opportunity to secure the services of the 2015 MVP was not one Bill Belichick was going to let slip through his grasp.
Newton joined the Patriots in July on a deal worth up to only $7.5 million, well below the market value for a starting quarterback. The 31-year-old still has a point to prove after missing the majority of last season with the Panthers due to a shoulder injury. There have been doubts whether Newton can return to the form of 2015 when he tore the league apart with an outstanding campaign. Belichick might be able to get the best out of the quarterback to ensure that Patriots remain one of the dominant teams in the NFL.
The State of the Patriots
New England are still contenders because of the belief in Belichick and Newton, but their roster is not overly formidable. Their receiving corps is extremely weak outside of Julian Edelman. There will be hope that last year’s first-round pick N’Keal Harry can develop into a quality wideout, but his rookie season was underwhelming to say the least. Their tight-ends are unproven at NFL level, although Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene both have potential. The strength of the offense is built around the offensive line, but without a dominant running game, the Patriots will struggle. Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead were excellent in the Patriots’ run to the Super Bowl two years ago.
However, neither player is the dominant force of Christian McCaffrey that Newton enjoyed in Carolina. Unless Newton can deliver an outstanding term, the Patriots certainly do not look like they’re primed for a Super Bowl run. However, New England are still considered in the running for the crown – one season removed from a 12-4 record and a defeat in the Wildcard Round at the hands of the Tennessee Titans. It would behove bettors to find the optimum value on the Patriots by looking at betting sites and their sign-up offers and welcome bonuses because, without Brady and with question marks surrounding their roster and Newton, New England look very ordinary.
Can Newton Return To His Best?
For all the praise surrounding Newton, his exceptional 2015 campaign was an outlier. He has been extremely productive in his NFL career and won a lot of games single-handed for the Panthers. Newton is not a statistical behemoth in the mould of Brady, lacking his precision accuracy and brilliance in the clutch. After missing the majority of the 2019 season, Newton was impressive in 2018 under the tutelage of offensive coordinator Norv Turner. He posted his highest completion percentage of his career of 67.5%, throwing 24 touchdowns to 13 interceptions.
In the year of his MVP award, Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions, also rushing for 636 yards and 10 scores. Those numbers will give Patriots fans hope, as well as Belichick, that Newton can be a force to be reckoned with. In those seasons, Newton operated without a stellar cast of his receivers – only McCaffrey and tight-end Greg Olsen were household names. Therefore he is more than capable of getting the best out of mediocre talent.
Consistency has been an issue throughout his career as you never know what Newton will turn up on a week-to-week basis. After boasting the metronome of Brady for 20 years, Belichick will have to get used to a quarterback that will sometimes be off the boil. The biggest question mark will be his fitness. Newton’s shoulder injury forced him to miss 14 games last term, and if it proves to an issue throughout the season, then the Patriots and the quarterback will have big problems. The 31-year-old has been confident about his health, but the test will come when he gets hit for the first time. For the first time in two decades, New England could be vulnerable.