Cam Newton just put pen to paper days ago to officially join the New England Patriots. Yet, he already accomplished something no player has under Bill Belichick. While it may not have a huge effect on the field, it already goes to show that it’s a new era in Foxborough.
But can Newton live up to the hype on the field? Or will he show the same durability concerns that caused him to fall out of favor with the Carolina Panthers? We still have to wait to see how the quarterback competition unfolds, but for now, Cam Newton looks like option No. 1.
Cam Newton signed a one-year deal to join forces with Bill Belichick
As soon as the Patriots lost to the Tennessee Titans, all attention diverted to Tom Brady’s future in New England. Ultimately, the GOAT decided to trade in his Patriots uniform for Tampa Bay Buccaneers colors. In doing so, he obviously left behind a gaping hole at the most important position in sports.
With only an unproven Jarrett Stidham and a career backup in Brian Hoyer, Patriots fans rightfully wondered whether Bill Belichick would address the position via the draft or free agency. Though Belichick signed two undrafted free agent QBs, he did nothing else to replace the greatest quarterback of all time.
Then Cam Newton arrived. After spending months on the market, he finally landed a job. Of course, he took a substantial pay cut to join forces with the greatest coach in NFL history. Determined to prove that he can stay healthy, Newton obviously had to humble himself by signing such a cheap contract.
However, he has a fantastic opportunity to set himself up for a massive payday next offseason. Of course, that all depends on whether he takes over starting duties and excels. But based on how the Patriots have treated their latest addition, Cam Newton’s future looks extremely promising.
Newton will wear a number never issued under Belichick before
Countless players have passed through New England during Bill Belichick’s tenure. Along the way, they have donned different jersey numbers. Strangely, though, no one has ever worn the No. 1 jersey. But when Cam Newton comes to town, apparently all conventional wisdom and past practices go out the door.
On Wednesday, ESPN’s Field Yates reported via Twitter that Newton will wear the No. 1 jersey in New England. He donned that number for nearly a decade in Carolina. However, he became the first Patriots player to ever get that number under the notoriously strict Belichick.
Could it just be a case of letting Newton continue wearing the No. 1? Perhaps the explanation really is that simple. On the other hand, it could also be a sign that Belichick has let his guard down a bit. After all, from a personality standpoint, Newton and Tom Brady couldn’t be more different.
Letting Newton’s charisma shine through could inspire a slight culture change in New England. At the end of the day, though, the only No. 1 that matters relates to Newton’s position on the depth chart. And that situation appears far from settled.
Will Cam Newton be QB1 this season?
Cam Newton already did something no Patriots player has ever managed under The Hoodie. But his jersey number carries no significance if he spends the season on the sidelines. Once football resumes, everyone in New England will focus their attention on the quarterback battle between the former No. 1 pick and Stidham.
From an experience and skill set standpoint, the two obviously have stark differences. Newton won the 2015 NFL MVP award due in large part to his rare running ability. Plus, his 6-foot-5, 245-pound frame makes him incredibly difficult to bring down. He has struggled with accuracy in the past and obviously comes with tremendous durability concerns.
On the other hand, Stidham enters his second NFL season as a relative unknown. He flashed first-round traits at Baylor and Auburn, but he fell to the fourth round following a disappointing senior season. Still, the Patriots seem optimistic about his future after an impressive preseason run last year.
Both quarterbacks obviously have huge shoes to fill. Whoever earns QB1 status faces huge pressure as the first starter in the post-Brady era. Stidham may ultimately take over as the face of the franchise a year or two from now. But the man wearing No. 1 in New England for the first time under Bill Belichick should also be the favorite open the season as QB1.
And if Cam Newton can turn the clock back to his prime form in Carolina, that spells trouble for the rest of the AFC.