Every NFL team had an opportunity to sign Cam Newton this offseason. Yet, the former Carolina Panthers star waited for nearly three months until he found a new team. Newton’s injury history led some to declare the former NFL MVP all but finished. In fact, NFL executives opted to sign quarterbacks with much thinner resumes to more lucrative deals than the one Newton inked with the New England Patriots.
However, just two games into the 2020 NFL season, Bill Belichick’s latest bargain signing has already made those executives’ worst nightmare come true. And if the first two weeks are any indication, Cam Newton is about to make many NFL general managers regret passing on him this spring.
NFL GMs passed over Cam Newton for less-accomplished quarterbacks
Cam Newton saw his Panthers career come to an end on March 17. Available to sign with any NFL franchise, he got greeted to a silent free-agent market. While Newton waited to find a new home, NFL general managers elected to pursue quarterbacks with much thinner resumes.
The Chicago Bears seemed like an ideal fit for Newton’s services. Already boasting one of the league’s top defenses, Chicago could have vastly upgraded at the QB position by offering the former MVP a contract. Instead, Ryan Pace traded a fourth-round pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for Nick Foles, who failed to beat out Mitchell Trubisky for the starting job.
Denver also appeared to be a possible landing spot for Newton. However, the Broncos passed over him and stuck with Drew Lock. The promising second-year quarterback suffered a shoulder injury in Week 2 and will miss multiple weeks.
The Los Angeles Chargers opted to draft a quarterback instead of signing Newton as a free agent. That decision could pay off in the long term. However, Newton would have provided a proven playmaker at the most important position in football for a team that boasts a playoff-caliber roster.
Ultimately, the Patriots signed Newton to a one-year, incentive-laden deal with a maximum value of only $7.5 million. Though some viewed the pairing of Newton and Belichick as a potential problem, that has not been the case thus far.
The former No. 1 pick joined the Patriots with a point to prove
For Cam Newton, joining the Patriots gave him a chance to prove he has something left in the tank. It also provided him with an opportunity to win his first Super Bowl ring. Primarily, though, Newton’s objective in 2020 is to demonstrate he still has the ability to play at a high level. After all, his recent string of shoulder and foot injuries prevented him from recapturing his MVP form.
Taking his talents to Foxborough also allowed Newton to receive a significant coaching upgrade. While Ron Rivera deserves praise for his respectable coaching career, he certainly cannot compete with Bill Belichick’s six Super Bowl titles. Plus, Josh McDaniels ranks as one of the most accomplished offensive coordinators in the league.
Though Newton faced a challenge in learning the Patriots’ offense during an offseason unlike any other, he still earned New England’s starting quarterback job. Only nobody had any idea what to expect from the 31-year-old heading into Week 1.
Newton just made NFL executives’ worst nightmare come true
Cam Newton’s historic Patriots debut could best be described as encouraging. He completed 15-of-19 passes for 155 yards. More importantly, he showcased the powerful running style that made him the league’s most valuable player just five years ago. Newton finished the afternoon with 75 rushing yards and two touchdowns while leading the Patriots to a 21-11 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
Coming off a rock-solid effort in Week 1, Newton and New England traveled west to take on the Seattle Seahawks. The Sunday Night Football matchup featured plenty of star power, and ultimately, both teams put forth excellent efforts. And while the Patriots came up just short of completing a dramatic comeback, Newton just made NFL executives’ worst nightmare come true.
Tasked with carrying an offense that did not have James White available due to his dad’s tragic death, Newton stepped up with a vintage performance. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound signal-caller completed 30-of-44 attempts for 397 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. He also ran for 47 yards and scored two touchdowns on the ground for the second straight week.
Newton’s Sunday night performance showed that Superman is far from finished. In fact, he has a chance to become even more effective than he ever was in Carolina. McDaniels has already demonstrated that he can adjust the offense to cater to his quarterback’s strengths. And with Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, and Damiere Byrd showing promising chemistry with Newton, it seems logical that the passing game will continue to improve as the season progresses.
Ultimately, considering the laughably cheap deal Newton signed, NFL GMs should be kicking themselves over passing him over. Instead of employing the former Panther, they now have to watch a healthy Newton star for the team that has dominated the league for two decades.
And if he continues to make those GMs live out their worst nightmare, Cam Newton and the Patriots could very well hoist the Lombardi Trophy in February.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.