The New England Patriots took a shot on Cam Newton last offseason by bringing him aboard on a one-year deal. The experiment didn’t unfold as hoped as the Patriots failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. As the offseason moves along, head coach Bill Belichick holds a lingering concern about Newton that can’t be fixed.
Cam Newton struggles through 2020 season
In the first campaign post-Tom Brady, the Patriots headed in a completely different direction by bringing aboard Cam Newton.
Newton’s arrival signaled a significant shift in the Patriots’ offensive approach. The coaching staff tailored the game plan to his skill set that almost entirely differed from how things operated in New England over the last two decades.
The 31-year-old found substantial success with his legs, recording 592 rushing yards with 12 touchdowns, the highest total since his rookie campaign. However, Newton struggled passing the ball as he finished 24th with 2,657 passing yards and 33rd with eight passing touchdowns.
Those shortcomings in the passing game contributed to the franchise failing to reach the playoffs. As the Patriots head into the offseason, Bill Belichick holds a lingering doubt about Newton’s NFL future.
Bill Belichick holds one concern about Cam Newton that can’t be fixed
Cam Newton’s first campaign with the Patriots didn’t unfold the way the franchised hoped.
However, the experience opened eyes within the organization regarding the type of player Newton is at this stage of his career. According to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Bill Belichick holds a singular doubt about the 31-year-old regarding his arms strength.
“The only problem Belichick is concerned with is Newton’s arm strength, with Newton having suffered multiple shoulder injuries in the last five years,” Volin noted in the report. “In 2019, Newton acknowledged on his YouTube channel that his injuries sapped his ability to throw downfield.”
Since 2017, Newton has gone through multiple shoulder surgeries that created that lingering concerns about his health. It likely contributed to his ineffectiveness in passing the ball as the 2020 season progressed along.
Newton struggled through the second half of the campaign that saw him fail to throw more than 100 yards in three out of the final six regular-season games. As the offseason moves forward, that lingering doubt could play a factor in Newton returning for another season.
What will New England do?
As the start of free agency nears closer, the talks around Newton’s future in New England continue to heat up.
In recent days, Newton stoked that flame by voicing he would more than welcome a return on a one-year deal. However, he didn’t confirm if he spoke to the Patriots about that potential scenario unfolding this offseason.
Newton may hold a strong desire to extend his tenure with New England, but Bill Belichick has the final say. Belichick saw enough to get a strong gauge with what Newton can bring to the table as the centerpiece to the offense.
At the same time, the Patriots didn’t have the best collection of talent around him, contributing to his struggles to provide stable production with his arm. Newton proved to be a significant factor with his legs, but the lack of reliability in the passing game heavily impacted his performance.
It may come down to whether Belichick believes another year in the Patriots’ offensive system with a full offseason will significantly improve Newton’s play in 2021.