By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Cam Newton is now a New England Patriots quarterback, reportedly agreeing to a one-year, incentive-laden contract on Sunday. But that doesn’t mean that Cam Newton is the starting quarterback of the New England Patriots for 2020.
Newton joins a quarterback room in New England that includes 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer (plus undrafted free agents J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke), and will have to beat them out in training camp if he wants to be the one taking the snaps in Week 1. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Newton was not guaranteed New England’s starting job when he signed with the Patriots.
That is going to make for a pretty compelling camp. What was going to be an intriguing Stidham vs. Hoyer QB battle has immediately morphed into an exciting Newton vs. Stidham QB battle. Bill Belichick has to be smiling while he enjoys his glass of OJ this morning (we’ll just ignore that other Patriots story that broke Sunday night in this image).
The Patriots spent much of the offseason feeding stories of confidence in Stidham, who has just four professional passes on his right shoulder. Still, despite Stidham’s rawness at the most important position in the game, there was some reason for optimism that the youngster could steer the ship on offense while the solid New England defense did most of the heavy lifting in the win column.
Newton’s signing puts the Stidham hype train back in the station for the time being. There’s still a chance the 23-year-old could beat out the 2015 NFL MVP for the starting gig, but Newton comes in with a leg up on the job. Josh McDaniels can conjure up a whole new bag of tricks for his new dump truck of a quarterback (how often do you get a 6-5, 245-pound QB?), and though Newton may be a shell of his 2015 MVP self, he is still a dangerous NFL playmaker when healthy. If the Patriots can get even a fraction of what Newton was from 2015-18 — when he averaged 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns — the Patriots offense could be a formidable unit in 2020.
Newton’s health remains a major concern, with the 31-year-old coming off a Lisfranc fracture that required surgery last December, hence the long wait to sign and “show me whatcha got” deal with New England. His deal with New England could be worth up to $7.5 million, but he’s going to have to earn all of that cash.
Winning New England’s starting QB job would be a good first step toward getting that big payday in 2020.