Bills Mafia? Take a seat. Fitz-Magic? More like a vanishing act. And an honorable mention to the New York Jets. Everything we thought we knew about the AFC East upended.
Agreeing to a measly $1M with up to $7.5 M in bonuses for one year, Cam Newton becomes the latest to have their shot at redemption in New England during the Belichick era.
It’s certainly been a long off-season for the former 1st overall pick and NFL League MVP. As the months have dragged on and the focus of the country has shifted to other issues away from sports, when and where Newton would end up became an after thought. And although we now know what uniform he will be suiting up in this fall, there are many questions left to be answered.
Ego and strange choice of attire aside, the most important question to answer is, will Newton be able to stay healthy?
Newton spent much of the 2018 season battling an on-going shoulder injury that required surgery at the end of the year and then suffered a Lisfranc fracture shortly after his return to football during the 2019 season, leaving him sidelined for the remainder of the year. Newton also underwent rotator-cuff surgery prior to the start of the 2017 season.
It is also important to note that the last time Cam saw any significant time on the gridiron, he completed a career high 67.5% of his passes, with an almost 2 to 1 TD to interception ratio, and a 94.2 QBR (second highest of his career). All while playing with the underlying shoulder injury. Proving, without a doubt, the man can deal some heavy blows to a defense whether he be at 100% or not.
The next glaring question surrounding the signing is how well is Cam going to fit into the New England culture?
Belichick has taken on his fair share of divas and personalities over the years; e.g. Randy Moss, Antonio Brown, Darrelle Revis. However, never has he taken such a risk at as an important position as QB. Of course there was no need to take that risk, considering he had the greatest of all time anchoring the position for the last 20 years.
We’ve also seen Belichick have both success and failure with these types of players. Randy Moss revived his career and set single season records; Revis helped anchor a defense that led New England to its first Superbowl victory in 10 years. But then A.B. and Josh Gordan seemed to fail take off. It is, however, considerably easier to supplement the position of WR and DB then it is at quarterback.
McDaniels and Belichick will certainly develop a gameplan around Newton’s talents, as they have proven countless times they can win by any means with essentially any player. What kind of relationship is built between Cam and the coaching staff and how he’s perceived in the locker room could be critical in determining if the second act of his career is a success or a flop.
The last question surrounding the Cam Newton deal I’ll take time to focus on is what this means for the rest of the league?
Certainly for everyone not a member of Pats nation, 2020 was finally going to be the year that New England could be written off as a championship contender and the decades long dynasty was at an end. Then, in the most Belichick way possible, the air that finally again filled your lungs was knocked right back out.
Needless to say, the Patriots are right back at the top of their division and once again contenders in the AFC and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it.
At the end of the day, this deal yields high potential and little risk for the Patriots who now have yet another MVP caliber quarterback, a top tier defense, and over $90M in cap space going into the 2021 season. In addition to a potential future franchise QB in Jarrett Stidham.
So fasten your seatbelts folks, there may be a Part III to this Dynasty after all.