The New England Patriots resigned QB Cam Newton to a 1 year, $14 million deal this morning, which ensures that the Patriots will have a QB plan in place heading into free agency. This move doesn’t necessarily prevent the Patriots from making another move for a QB, in fact it’s more than likely another one or two will be on the 90 man squad come training camp. Despite this being just a one year deal, there’s a lot of information to digest, so let’s take a deeper look at it.
First, let’s take a look at the deal itself. The $14 million for just one year is initially concerning, as Newton was not even close to worth $14 million last season. However, while all the details aren’t out yet, it seems like much of the money is based off incentives, meaning it won’t count for $14 million against the salary cap. Initial reports suggest that $6 million of the deal is tied to honors and playoff incentives alone, and there may very well be other aspects of the contract that haven’t come out yet. Let’s look at it this way; if the Patriots end up having to pay Newton the full $14 million for this deal, it probably means the Patriots had a successful season.
As touched upon earlier, this deal probably won’t prevent the Patriots from adding another QB to their roster. The likelihood of a trade has been diminished to some extent, but another free agency signing is still in the realm of possibility, and the draft seems like a solid option to add another QB at this point too. Either way, based on what we saw from Jarret Stidham last season, it seems unlikely that the Patriots will roll into next season with the same group of quarterbacks they had last season.
The most important part of this deal is that the Patriots have a QB plan they can sell to their free agent targets. Free agent tight end Hunter Henry, who has been linked to the Patriots, has said that a team’s QB situation will definitely be a strong determining factor in where he signs. Prior to this deal, the Patriots didn’t really have anything in that department to sell to these players. Now they can at the very least say they have Newton on board, with the possibility of looking to add another QB or two before training camp begins.
The hope here is that the Pats draft a QB in the early rounds and develop him behind Newton for this season. Essentially, a drafted QB would fit the role Stidham filled last year, where he sits behind Newton and if Newton struggles, give him some game action. It failed with Stidham last season, in part because of the offenses’ struggles as a whole, but it’s clear that the Patriots can find somebody with a higher ceiling than Stidham, and they should look to do so.
Even if the Patriots don’t go out and get another quarterback, there’s a possibility that this deal could work out on its own for New England. Remember how good Newton played before he came down with COVID in Week 4? He never really looked the same afterwards, occasionally showing brief glimpses of his old self throughout the rest of the season, but struggled to find any sort of consistency. Now that Newton will have an entire offseason to recover, and build on his knowledge of the Patriots system, is it unreasonable to expect Newton to be better this season? There’s a chance it could happen, but if it doesn’t the Patriots should protect themselves by adding another QB, which is why the draft seems like the most plausible option as this point.
This deal will probably look better and better as more details come out. Despite Newton’s subpar performance last season, there’s still a lot to like about this deal. Newton and the Patriots faced numerous challenges throughout the season, and yet still somehow managed to pull off seven wins on the season, which is probably more than they should have. With all the incentives involved in the deal, it will probably be a small cap hit, and for the ceiling Newton potentially offers, it’s worth it. It’s time for New England to build off of this deal, and use their abundant cap space and draft picks to build the Patriots next contending team.
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