It’s perfectly alright to be excited about Cam Newton. The possibilities a fully healthy Newton presents for a Patriots fan are as exciting as a new toy on Christmas morning. However, do not mistake the Newton experiment in Foxboro as a sound solution to the post-Brady era.
Let’s start with Cam. I have no problem with hype videos and workout montages. More power to him. Assuming his full health, though, might be a bit premature. Rumors are still swirling about his shoulder as Doug Gottlieb brought up last week. General Managers were hesitant about Newton this offseason. Despite what we in New England like to think, we can’t just assume that Bill is the only one who knows anything.
The Panthers wouldn’t give up on a QB of Newton’s pedigree for Kyle Allen if they didn’t have doubts about Newton’s shoulder or his Lisfranc Injury. The overall physical toll Newton has taken in his career, including car accidents, means that his 31 years, which we are constantly reminded is the same age as Russell Wilson, is not equivalent to even the average NFL 31.
As far as the Patriots are concerned, I just don’t buy that the plan all along was to sit and wait until the end of June to sign Cam Newton. This would be late, even under normal circumstances. This year, it comes with the possibility of a shortened preseason and regular season, no in-person workouts, and questions surrounding Newton’s remaining ability. This is hardly a plan. At best, it is extreme confidence on the part of Belichick to suggest he can win with anyone that shakes out of free agency for pennies on the dollar. At worst, it’s a Hail Mary. Newton’s contract alone is enough to tell you that the team isn’t exactly brimming with confidence in him. It is likely somewhere in the middle. The Patriots aren’t sold on Cam, but he now looks like a better option than Stidham. This brings me to my next point.
Say it with me: JARRETT STIDHAM ISN’T READY!
Despite the various different ways that the media has pumped up “Stid The Kid,” you simply cannot deny that this is an indictment of Stidham in some form or fashion.
Bringing in Cam means that the Patriots either feel Stidham needed someone to push him in camp, someone to mentor him for another season, someone to start because he’s not ready, or a combination of the three. A one-and-done QB, which is what Cam’s Darelle Revis-like deal indicates, delays the transition to the QB of the future. You only move on from the greatest to ever do it, who still ranks in the top ten, if the next guy is ready to go. This brings us to the final point.
They could have, and should have, kept Tom Brady. This is part of a larger debate, but before you go screaming about his salary demands and a two-year deal that the team didn’t want, consider that the Pats just pulled 7 million in cap space out of their butts by settling with Antonio Brown and the estate of Aaron Hernandez. The cap situation is easily maneuverable. Belichick has admitted as much. What really needed to be more maneuverable was Bill’s attitude towards keeping Brady. At the end of the day, Bill was done with Brady, Kraft deferred to Bill, and we are now forced to live with the fact that “Tompa Bay” is a thing.
Even at what has been deemed his “worst,” Brady rolled out of bed and led the Patriots to a 12-4 record. No one’s best is going to be Brady’s best. Many people’s best isn’t even his worst. During the season when Cam Newton was winning an MVP and failing to dive on a fumble in the biggest game of the year, Brady was a two-point conversion away from tucking another 4th quarter comeback under his belt to force overtime in the AFC championship game. In fact, you could play a Choose Your Own Adventure for why Brady and Cam didn’t meet up in Super Bowl 50 (see: Jamie Collins, Marcus Cannon, Stephen Gostkowski, and bad 4th down play calls), but I digress. By bringing in Newton as a rental, the Pats are delaying the full reset, which is simply the only reason to move on from Brady.
So yes, the Cam Newton experiment might work. Despite what you may think after reading this far, I hope it does. But, I still know that it’s a much better plan for the Patriots to have their next franchise QB in place so that they can live through the growing pains of handing over the reins more efficiently. If, for whatever reason, they don’t have that next guy (Stidham) ready to go, then they should have just kept a certain GOAT around for another year or two while they figured it out.
Photo: (Mike McCarn – AP Photo)