It’s fair to assume that most people who pay attention to the NFL think that Cam Newton is not the same player he once was. That’s atleast the perception outside the league, with a video recently going viral showing a player at one of Cam Newton’s football camps letting Newton know he thought he was washed up. While Newton certainly did not have a great year with the Patriots last season, he may just be the Patriots best option to start under center next season.
Now hear us out here. Newton contributed 3,249 total yards and 21 total touchdowns this past season for the Patriots as they had a losing record for the first time since 2000. On the surface, those numbers seem somewhat respectable, but a closer look at them shows why people are upset with Newton’s performance. Newton only passed for eight of those touchdowns, while throwing 10 interceptions as well. Newton’s rushing stats were where Newton made his money, as he picked up 592 yards on the ground, along with 12 touchdowns. Newton’s last touchdown came when he was one the receiving end of a trick play. The Patriots knew they had a red zone weapon in Newton, the problem was getting there.
Before the Patriots Week 4 game against the Kansas City Chiefs, it was announced that Newton had contracted COVID-19 and would be sidelined due to it. That proved to be the turning point in the Patriots season, as they had started the season off with two wins over the Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders, while staying neck and neck with the Seattle Seahawks before Newton was stuffed at the 1 yard line as time expired. The Patriots had some good momentum going, and Newton was playing quite well. But after his COVID diagnosis, Newton and the Patriots were never quite the same. Newton’s per game averages before and after his bout with COVID show the decline in Newton’s performance.
|Pre COVID||After Covid|
|Average Passing Yards/Game: 238 yds/gm||Average Passing Yards/Game: 176 yds/gm|
|Average Rushing Yards/Game: 49.67 yds/gm||Average Rushing Yards/Game: 40.27 yds/gm|
On “I Am Athlete”, a weekly discussion video uploaded by former NFL players Brandon Marshall, Fred Taylor, Chad Ochocinco, and Channing Crowder, Newton said it best when he used the analogy of two cars traveling to the same place, but one car having to stop for gas. The Patriots offense kept going while Cam was “getting gas” due to him contracting COVID. Other athletes have detailed their struggles of playing after COVID, as fellow Boston star Jayson Tatum recently detailed how COVID has impacted his return to the basketball court. While it’s fair to assume that opposing defenses keyed in on the Patriots lack of offensive weapons, the impact COVID had on Newton cannot be completely disregarded.
No matter what Cam did, he was going to be playing catch up when it came to trying to fully master the Patriots offense this past season. Not having an offseason to get acclimated to the Patriots system certainly didn’t help Cam with his transition to New England, as it was his first season with the team. And then once he started to figure out the offense, his momentum was completely disrupted by coming down with COVID. The odds were stacked against Newton to succeed from the start, and it’s fair to wonder if he could do more with a full offseason to prepare, and a full season’s worth of experience in the Patriots offense under his belt.
That is why Newton may just be the Patriots best option at QB next season. Aside from Jimmy Garappolo, none of the other quarterbacks rumored to be available this offseason have experience in the Patriots offense. None of the other quarterbacks also offer the MVP upside that Newton does. While it’s certainly a stretch to expect Newton to perform up to that level, there were brief glimpses of his potential throughout this past season with the Patriots. And based on his performance from this past season, it’s also fair to expect that the Patriots could get Newton on a relatively cheap deal for the second consecutive season.
Picking up Newton on a cheap deal would allow the Patriots to get him more help on offense. There are numerous wide receiver options available on the free agent market this season, and if the Patriots bring Newton back on a cheap deal, it would allow them to aggressively pursue some of those options. The Patriots had to thrust Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd into the top two receiver roles, and while they performed admirably, it’s clear the Patriots need some help there. The Patriots also got pretty much no production from their tight ends, so they could look to upgrade at that position as well.
If the Patriots were to resign Newton, they would most likely look to the draft to find their starting QB of the future. The Patriots have the number 15 pick in the draft, and they have the assets to move around in the draft as they please. Drafting a QB would effectively turn Newton into a bridge QB for whoever they draft, giving them time to develop behind the scenes. But if the Patriots are able to upgrade the offense this offseason, they could leave their future QB in quite good hands.
With all things considered, it’s not out of the picture for Newton to return to the Patriots next season. Yes his first season in New England wasn’t great, but considering the circumstances, it probably should have been worse. Newton provides the Patriots with a cost-effective option who would allow the Patriots a chance to rebuild themselves on the fly. With all the chatter surrounding quarterbacks this offseason, Cam Newton may just be the best available option for the New England Patriots.
Bret Nascimento and Owen Crisafulli contributed to this article
Click on the images below to shop for new Patriots gear!