BOSTON (CBS) — After a difficult first season in New England, Cam Newton is going to take some time to ponder his future. The quarterback still believes he is not only a starting quarterback in the NFL, but can be among the best to sling the pigskin.

Whether the 32 teams around the league agree with that assessment remains to be seen. And depending on the landscape of the league, it may be something Newton has to consider next season.

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“Honestly, its too early to tell. That’s as honest as I can be,” Newton said Monday during his radio interview with WEEI. “Do I think I have starting talent? Absolutely. Do I think a lot of things that I’ve done were devalued, not the team’s perspective but the media’s perspective? Absolutely.

“Do people care about my feelings? Absolutely not,” he continued. “It is what it is and I understand what profession I’m in. There are only 32 of us and this is not for the weakhearted. I just need some time to myself to reevaluate this whole situation.”

Now, just because he may be willing to consider being a backup doesn’t mean that Newton wants to be a backup.

“For me, when I look at the whole situation, if you’re asking me if I want to be a backup? Hell no,” he said. “Because when I look at the other teams and I’m looking at how players play, it’s been guys getting away with what I feel is murder for years because of subpar play. Do I have the right to say that with the year that I had this year? No. But, I am going to be honest and say it because that is what I do.”

You can never accuse Newton of being dishonest, because whatever the man feels is what the man says. And he does not believe that he is done as a starting quarterback in the NFL.

“I know out of 32 guys, I am not the 32nd in that position. So you have to also understand that I am a competitor first. I think the highest of myself first as any person would and should,” said Newton. “I know what my skillset is. I know what my talent is. I understand if given the opportunity, there is nobody better than me. That is how I will always feel.”

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That doesn’t mean Newton is dismissing his struggles in 2020. He admits that there is a lot that he has to work on to get better than what we saw in his first — and potentially only — season with the Patriots.

But Newton maintains that he finished the year healthy, and shoulder issues did not cause his problems this season.

Newton added that he doesn’t need to be a backup to take on a mentoring role with whatever team he signs with. It’s something he did throughout last season with Jarrett Stidham, and a role he was happy to take on.

“For me, and what it was worth this year, I saw unbelievable growth out of Stiddy this year,” he said. “There were times he came in and played his ass off, and I was the first person to [tell him] this is right, this is wrong, and he was the same way for me. He helped me in more ways than I can mention. I would never allow anyone to negate the type of teammate I am, because all I want to do is win.”

Newton doesn’t know what the future holds for him, but he did say that he won’t be waiting as long as he did last offseason to sign somewhere. He didn’t sign with the Patriots until late June, and when you mix that late arrival in New England with all the COVID-19 restrictions in training camp, Newton had a lot of catching up to do.

Despite his commitment to the Patriots, which included long days and night at Gillette Stadium, Newton was never really able to catch up.

“I put myself at a disadvantage with that, but you live and you learn,” he said. “When you look at where we were at times, we had to figure it out and we had to figure it out fast. … Was it realistic? Yeah it was. We had enough talent in that locker room to win more games than we won; let’s put it like that and I’ll keep it there.”

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Newton said that he has not yet spoken with Bill Belichick about staying in New England, but a return to the Patriots would be “remarkable.”