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29 June 2020 12:38

Carolina Panthers NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers

New England Patriots sign QB Cam Newton to replace Tom Brady, source says

The New England Patriots have signed former MVP quarterback Cam Newton on a one-year deal, the NFL has announced. Newton had been a free agent after being released by the Carolina Panthers at the end of last season. The Patriots parted company with six-time Super Bowl-winner Tom Brady in March and had been expected to go into the new campaign with untested 23-year-old Jarrett Stidham as their quarterback. The New England Patriots have reached an agreement with free-agent quarterback Cam Newton, bringing in the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player to help the team move on from three-time MVP Tom Brady, a person with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press. The Patriots had been heading to training camp with 2019 fourth-round draft choice Jarrett Stidham as the heir apparent to Brady, who led the team to six Super Bowl championships since 2001 but signed with Tampa Bay this off-season.

The only other experienced quarterback on the defending AFC East champions' roster was 34-year-old Brian Hoyer, who has started 38 games in an 11-year career with seven NFL teams, including the Patriots twice. A three-time Pro Bowl selection who was the league's top player in 2015, Newton remains the NFL's all-time leader in touchdowns rushing by a quarterback. The Panthers finished 15-1 that season and Newton won league MVP honors after throwing for 3,837 and 35 touchdowns and rushing for 636 yards and 10 TDs. But he was criticized after Carolina's 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl for not jumping on a loose ball late in the game and cutting his postgame news conference short. After missing the post-season in 2016, the Panthers returned after going 11-5 the next year, losing to the New Orleans Saints in the wild-card round. Even though NFL teams are allowed to carry up to 90 players on their active rosters during the offseason, the New England Patriots opted to keep just 89 since the rookie free agency period following the draft in late April.

On Sunday, however, they decided to finally fill that one vacant spot — and they did so with a bang: the team signed former Carolina Panthers quarterback and 2011's first overall draft pick Cam Newton to a one-year free agency deal. While Newton is already 31 years old and has had numerous injuries throughout his career in the NFL, he is still one of the most impressive athletes in all of football. Accordingly, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels might try to build a new-look system around the veteran — one that projects to be more modern with its use of run-pass-option plays or zone-blocking concepts than what New England previously ran with Brady under center. Up until Sunday, the belief was that the battle for the Patriots' starting quarterback position in Year One after Brady would be decided between second-year man Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer. Stidham was viewed as the favorite after an impressive first year in the system, but he will face some tough competition in the form of Newton: while coming off an injury-riddled season, the ex-Panther is a proven QB1 in this league — something that neither Stidham nor Hoyer are.

Despite his pedigree — Newton's accolades, among others, include one league MVP trophy and three Pro Bowl selections — the 10-year pro remained on the open market for three months before New England brought him in. His upside cannot be denied, however, which makes signing him to an incentive-filled one-year contract the classic low-risk, high-reward addition: at worst, the Patriots invested minimal resources for a short-time rental; at best, they signed a Pro-Bowl-caliber talent and their starting quarterback for the 2020 season. Despite their salary cap issues, the Patriots can afford Newton While it remains to be seen whether or not this projection turns out to be accurate, a minimum-salary contract would allow New England to sign the veteran without any immediate follow-up transactions having to be made. Given that a) he was released by the Panthers in late March, and b) the league's official part of free agency is already over, Newton's deal will not count against New England's compensatory draft picks formula in 2021. That said, he could factor into calculations for the subsequent year: if he earns the Patriots' starting role and comes close to his Pro Bowl form again this season, Newton will likely be a highly sought-after free agent next March — one that could yield a compensatory pick if he leaves town again.

Cam Newton signed with the New England Patriots on Sunday, because of course he did. Newton's incentive-laden, one-year deal is a tremendous move for the Patriots, who took a low-risk, high-reward bet on the 2015 NFL MVP's health. Because if Newton is healthy, there is no chance he isn't the Patriots' starter – sorry, Jarrett Stidham. So if all it took was the league minimum and a ton of incentives to sign the 31-year-old Newton, why didn't the Bears roll the dice on a potentially great quarterback? If the Bears signed Newton, they would've thrust a guy with legitimate questions about his health into a battle with Mitch Trubisky.

Ryan Pace had to trade for Foles, notably after Teddy Bridgewater signed with the Carolina Panthers. So I'm not going to second-guess the Bears not signing Newton right now. Something tells me a guy* with the 90.7 passer rating in 2016, who previously took his team to a Super Bowl, would've been better than the guy who got $18.5 million guaranteed a year after throwing 11 passes. Or maybe the Bears would've won the Super Bowl in 2018 had they drafted a great quarterback AND had the NFL's best defense. And we'll never know if the 2020 Bears could've rejuvenated Newton's career, because of the mistakes made three years ago. Anyways, congrats to the Patriots on winning Super Bowl LV with Newton hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Should Bears have signed Cam Newton? If Cam Newton is healthy - obviously a big if - the New England Patriots might have just signed the best free agent quarterback this offseason - even better than the guy whose really big shoes, Newton is stepping into. But on Sunday night, New England made their own QB move, adding a former MVP who is 12 years younger than Brady and every bit as motivated. They didn't have the salary cap space to offer Newton a contract that would pay him like a top-shelf NFL starter and at that money he might not have been worth the risk. Brady, Teddy Bridgewater, Philip Rivers, Nick Foles and even Jameis Winston (who got the most coveted backup gig in New Orleans) - all hired moving companies while Newton sat like the last prospect in the green room on draft day. On a one-year deal Newton is playing to resurrect his career. Before suffering a shoulder injury in Week 9 of the 2018 season, Newton had been terrific carrying the Panthers to a 6-2 start. Even if the all-time leader in career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback (58) isn't the same dominant runner he once was - and the Patriots should be careful not to expose him - he's still valuable as a passer and a lot more proven than Stidham. If Newton is 80 percent of what he was to start 2018, he makes the Patriots the favorite again in the AFC East and a challenger to make a playoff run. Cam Newton going to have a better career than Tom Brady. Cam Newton signs with Patriots: 'I'm excited as I don't know what right now... Cam Newton is absolutely worth taking a flyer on as New England Patriot | Chris Mason Cam Newton, New England Patriots agree on one-year incentive-laden deal (report)