Bill Belichick and the Pats must now think about 2021, specifically who should be playing quarterback next year. Newton’s performance this year makes it very possible that New England will be looking for another quarterback. If they do, moving on from the former NFL MVP won’t be hard for Belichick and company.
Cam Newton’s struggles and contract make it easy for the Patriots to move on
When Cam Newton signed with the Patriots, they were expecting him to be exceptional running and throwing the football. He is a capable runner, which fits right into New England’s run-heavy offensive scheme. This season, he has rushed for 489 yards and 11 touchdowns, per ESPN. That is exactly what you’d want from SuperCam.
Throwing the ball has been a nightmare for Newton, however. He has 2,381 passing yards, five touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. Those five touchdown passes are the lowest amount he’s thrown in his career, outside of last season, where he missed 14 games.
To put his passing struggles into perspective, he has thrown for 250+ yards in three games this season. That kind of quarterback play won’t win many games in today’s NFL.
The mantra Bill Belichick lives by is, “do your job.” Newton has failed to do so, which makes him expendable. What makes things easier for New England is that they signed him to a one-year contract. Combine those two elements, and it could be a simple decision for Belichick. Cam Newton had the opportunity to prove his worth, and he hasn’t. If the six-time champion coach wants to get rid of Newton, he has all the ammo to do it.
The Patriots could draft their next QB given their draft position
The Patriots should have a decent first-round draft pick based on the record. They should be somewhere in the early-mid first round. That takes them out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, but other impressive quarterback prospects can fall in New England’s lap.
One name that comes to mind is Alabama’s Mac Jones. Jones has been on a tear this year, completing over 75% of his passes, throwing for 3,739 yards, 34 touchdowns, and four interceptions. He has the arm to make every throw and is projected No. 15 in Mel Kiper Jr.’s mock draft. Another potential option is BYU’s Zach Wilson. Wilson is a better runner than Jones, which could appeal to the Patriots. He has also lit it up the season, having 43 total touchdowns.
Trey Lance and Kyle Trask are also players that New England could select with their first-round pick. Both are exceptional passers, with Lance being the best runner out of all of these quarterbacks. None of them are perfect, but with Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ development program, they should be just fine.
A lot of variables do come into play, however. Will these quarterbacks declare for the draft? Lance already decided to enter the draft, Trask is a fifth-year senior, but Jones and Wilson’s futures are unknown. What pick will the Patriots have? Could they not draft a quarterback and look to sign (or trade) for one in the offseason?
The Patriots have options to get a quarterback other than Cam Newton
If they search for a quarterback via trade or free agency, there are a few names that could be great options for them. They could bring back a familiar face in Jacoby Brissett. His contract ends with the Colts after this year, and he has experience in the Patriots’ system. He has proven he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL, so the Patriots won’t be taking a significant risk here.
Carson Wentz is another quarterback that the Patriots could obtain. They would need to do this by trade and absorb the cap hit that comes with Wentz. Luckily, Spotrac projects them to have $70 million in cap space next offseason, so they should be able to withstand that financial blow.
Some other potential free agents at quarterback are Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Andy Dalton. They might not be franchise quarterbacks, but it will keep the Pats competitive and give them time to find their true signal-caller of the future.
Jarret Stidham is still on the roster, and the Patriots were high on him coming into this season before Cam Newton showed up. He hasn’t shown much in limited playtime, but he is still young, and the Pats can still develop him.
The England Patriots have multiple avenues to find their quarterback, so letting Cam Newton go won’t be hard. There is still the possibility of bringing him back because this season was unusual in terms of COVID-19. However, it looks like Newton’s best days are behind him. This marriage didn’t work, and the Patriots can make this divorce easy if they want.
All Stats Courtesy of ESPN