By Dan Roche

BOSTON (CBS) — News that the Patriots are bringing Cam Newton back on a one-year deal shocked a lot of fans on Friday morning.

Cam and the Patriots didn’t have a great 2020 season. The Pats finished 7-9 and didn’t make the playoffs. Newton threw for only eight touchdowns and ran for another 12. Newton didn’t sign until July 8th last season and had to go virtual until Training Camp due to COVID-19 Health & Safety protocols. He also had the coronavirus during the season.

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Did he have a great season? No. Not by any stretch.

But let’s use some common sense and think about why Bill Belichick would bring him back for 2021.

1. The deal carries a base value of just $5 million, with $9 million in a number of incentives. Last year, Cam was a ridiculous bargain for $1.75 million plus incentives that got him to just under $4 million. This 2021 deal is still a bargain and it puts it all on Cam to win the starting QB job and play well.

2. Newton didn’t sign until July last year. He’s signed four months earlier this time around. He’ll be able to jump in with both feet to all off-season activities leading up to Training Camp. He knows the system now, he knows Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels and their offense/expectations, and he knows the personnel that’s here. He’s way ahead of last year.

3. Cam will also be getting better weapons at the receiver and tight end. Belichick saw what he had last year and knows he has to upgrade this year. And he’s got $60 million in cap space to do so. Newton is still well-respected around the league, and may help the Patriots attract some free agents next week. Having a QB like Newton already on the roster makes New England much more appealing to potential pass-catchers.

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Newton will also be getting Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon on the offensive line to give him the protection and time that he needs. It also helps that Cam has the respect of all the players in the locker room. Can’t hurt to have such a well-respected leader back.

4. This signing also sets up the Patriots for the new league year. With Newton and Jarrett Stidham in place, Belichick can now draft a future QB, sign a free agent quarterback (with a better bargaining position than without Newton), or trade for a QB (also in a better, not desperate, bargaining position).

5. When the dust clears, you bring in all your QBs and let them battle it out through Training Camp to determine which one gives you the best chance to win in Week 1 and beyond. That’s what Bill Belichick is all about.

So, the way I look at this is you are in much better shape in March 2021 than you were in March of 2020. That’s at least a start.

Will Cam Newton be New England’s starting quarterback in September? Who knows. He may be. Would it be the right move? I’m not sure, but I do think the person who matters most – Bill Belichick – has earned the right to determine what he thinks is best for the 2021 New England Patriots and trying to win football games.

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No matter the opinions the “experts” shout at us about the Newton signing, I can 100-percent guarantee they don’t know more about the game than arguably the greatest coach in the history of the NFL.