For almost four months now, Patriots fans have been a shell of themselves. There's just been too many questions and too much uncertainty surrounding the new era of New England football, following the departure of the GOAT, Tom Brady. We've been through every stage of grief and even had some setbacks along the way. Just last week I caught myself feeling sad that Brady was gone because it hit me again after I watched a video of him posing for pictures in his Tampa Bay jersey. Where could we actually go from here? What outcome could possibly be OKAY, let alone good?
I've thought about every quarterback option, as most fans have. I was trying to force myself to believe in Jarrett Stidham. He was going to be the guy. He had to be. Why else would the Pats have let Brady go and then proceeded to pass on every other QB in the draft, free agency and via trade? I guess we just had to believe the hype that he was ready. We needed blind faith, with little to no backup plan.
That all changed on Sunday night. I literally saw the news as it happened. Staring at Twitter, an Adam Schefter alert popped up. I clicked. Cam Newton was signing with the Patriots, out of nowhere and I just started yelling "yes! yes! YES!" Does that seem like a bit of an overreaction for a guy that was hurt for almost all of last season and had no market besides us and the Cleveland Browns? Maybe, but this speaks to what Patriots fans need right now and that is hope.
Former NFL MVP Cam Newton has reached agreement on a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the New England Patriots, league sources tell @mortreport and me.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 28, 2020
Newton now will step into the mix to try to help replace former Patriots’ QB Tom Brady.
Cam Newton has been nothing but a superstar for most of his life and Pats fans are latching on to that. We're excited because he brings credibility and star power. He makes the transition jusssst a bit easier. We're treating him like he's coming off of his best season when he's really at a low point. Guess what though? That is okay. We need to look at the best case scenario and be excited for the possibilities. With a guy like Cam Newton, those are endless.
Cam is the poster child for what every professional athlete wants to be. He's got a body like it was built on a video game, a radiant smile, charisma that is off the charts and the athleticism of Bo Jackson, LeBron James and Deon Sanders. Newton has always been this well-rounded ideal of what a modern quarterback should be. From high school, to the University of Florida, to JUCO, to Auburn, he was special. Once he hit the national stage and became a household name though, things only took off more.
In Newton's junior year of college, he joined Auburn and started absolutely dominating the big boys of the SEC. With an undefeated record, a Heisman and a National Championship, he became a household name. Shortly thereafter, he was the #1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. From 2011-2019, Cam became the Carolina Panthers. He continued to rack up every award possible and peaked in 2015 with an MVP, a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. Despite losing to the Broncos in that season's final game, Cam was still the man. Unfortunately, this all changed rather quickly.
The Panthers became an organization in disarray and they seemed to almost refuse to surround Cam with any competent wideouts. Meanwhile, the QB was taking hit after hit both inside and outside of the pocket. It didn't matter if the hit was dirty, after the whistle, up high or whatever, and Newton took a beating. The abuse was adding up and taking a toll. Finally, in 2018, he seemed broken. Shoulder and back injuries were holding him down or even out. In 2019 he returned after surgery to only play in two games. I remember watching the second game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, because it was on Thursday Night Football and because Cam's performance was exceptionally awful. He went 25 for 51 on pass attempts and it was fair to wonder how much of his struggles were physical and how much was mental.
Cam didn't play again after that atrocious showing. He took the blame and sat out with a Lisfranc fracture in his foot. The injury didn't heal as quickly as it should have and Cam was placed on Injured Reserve in November. By this time, it was pretty clear that Cam's career was at a crossroads. The Panthers would be moving on from their franchise player, and Newton would have to figure out how to get his mojo back elsewhere.
After the unceremonious breakup between team and player, people wondered whether he'd latch on in New England. For four months, he didn't. It didn't look likely to change. However, here we are. The player looking to prove himself for the first time has signed on with a team and coach that can build you back up. Each side needs each other and with a low-risk, high-reward deal like this, there isn't anything to lose. Cam Newton offers upside to a team and fanbase that needed it. There's finally a Plan A and Plan B. We don't have to rely on Stidham and we can go into the season feeling like more options and more bodies equals more of a chance to win.
If Cam is indeed healthy, it's possible that we just added one of the best quarterbacks alive. He might even be better than Tom Brady at this point and he could conceivably contend for an MVP while helping us win ballgames. At that point, we've got our eyes back on the prize for a Super Bowl and Cam can either sign up for big money with us, or elsewhere after the season. We'd have a young Stidham as a good backup and an old veteran in Brian Hoyer showing them both the ropes of New England. The only worries we'd have would be Cam's ability to learn the offense and his ability to avoid big hits and injuries. Any diva labels or postgame press conference problems would go by the wayside because of Bill Belichick. The man filling the shoes of Brady would be a star in his own right and a fan favorite, quickly.
On the negative side, if Cam can't overcome this adversity and this is really his end, the shot was worth taking for short money. I'll hope that a scenario not involving Newton taking starter snaps arises because Stidham is actually really good, and not because he just sucks a bit less. The extremes are certainly in play and Cam could end up as a camp cut who can't even hang around to hold a clipboard or a TD dancing, scarf wearing, Super Bowl winning LEGEND. One thing is for sure, we'll be entertained.