I'm not going to apologize for that headline pun - there were much worse ones that I considered. Live with it.
Anyways, I guess the past 21 hours have been eventful for Pats fans, eh? Shortly before 8pm Sunday night, Adam Schefter broke the news that the Patriots had come to terms on a one year deal with former Carolina Panthers Quarterback and 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton. The agreement is for the league minimum with incentives, which could bring the total value up to $7.5 million when all is said and done. As we tend to see with most Patriots-related news on social media, there were some...REACTIONS - the strong kind. The Pats are pretty much the straw that stirs the drink when it comes to the NFL, after all, as evidenced by how quickly the different takes and narratives began to make their way around Twitter late Sunday evening.
Look, I'm going to put this in simple terms here: if you're a Pats fan and are legitimately bothered by this signing, there's something wrong with you. There is literally no risk in bringing in Cam Newton on a minimum contract with incentives. If Newton is healthy, which is a big "if," as he hasn't been for the past season and a half, he's legitimately a top 10-15 Quarterback in the NFL. And if he's not healthy, he can easily be cut or placed on the PUP list to start the season. The salary cap isn't impacted whatsoever by this move, so...what's there to be upset about? Nothing - absolutely nothing. Also, this signing doesn't guarantee Cam Newton the starting QB job. If Jarrett Stidham outperforms Newton in camp and in the preseason, then he'll be out there come Week 1. This is a Bill Belichick team, after all - he's going to put what he thinks is the best roster out there on the field, regardless of how popular his decisions are.
Maybe some of you are upset because you were sold on Jarrett Stidham being the guy to step into Tom Brady's legendary cleats and fill them in 2020. If that's the case, again, let me remind you that none of the Quarterbacks on this Patriots roster have been guaranteed a thing. Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer are all going to compete for the starting job, no one is getting it handed to him. If Stidham doesn't win the job out of camp, then he flat out doesn't deserve it. At least not right now. And you know what? That's not some sort of referendum on his career or a knock on his ability to start in the NFL at some point. Perhaps it turns out that he needs another year sitting and watching from the sideline. There are a number of Quarterbacks who went on to do great things after serving as a backup for multiple seasons. His story isn't written yet, its start might just be delayed a bit longer.
If Cam Newton is healthy and plays at a high level for the Patriots in 2020, fans of other NFL teams are going to be sooooo MAD. And I love that. They thought that they were finally rid of the boogeyman; Tom Brady left for Tampa and the Patriots were set to rebuild - at least that's what they all thought. Let's be clear, the Patriots were setting out to put a competitive team on the field in 2020 long before this signing. They were never going to "Tank for Trevor" because Bill Belichick isn't built that way. He'd never set out to lose a series of games on purpose, nor is he capable of doing so. Belichick could have coached the 2008 Lions or 2017 Browns to at least 3-4 wins, he's THAT good of a strategist. So when you take into account the fact that, even after the departures they've experienced this offseason, the Patriots are much more talented than either of those teams, a full fledged "tank" was never in the cards. With a healthy Cam Newton in the fold, though? The Patriots could very well take their streak of consecutive AFC East Titles to a record twelfth consecutive season.
So there you have it, folks. While I'd definitely pump the brakes on celebrating this signing and thinking that it takes the Patriots back to contender status in 2020, there is absolutely legitimate cause for optimism. And again, if you're part of the subsection of the Patriots fan base that has spent the past 21 hours being outwardly negative about bringing Newton aboard, stop being a massively stubborn dork. As I already laid out, there is zero risk to giving Cam a chance and you're really telling on yourself if it upsets you. At worst, it's competition at the QB position for whoever eventually wins it and an inexpensive experiment that doesn't quite pan out. But, at best? We could be in for one hell of a second act for Cam Newton, someone who has had some absolutely jaw-dropping moments over the years. And I, for one, cannot wait to sit back and potentially watch him do it while in a Patriots uniform.
Training Camp opens in one month, folks...giddy up.