There are plenty of things about the concept of Cam Newton as a New England Patriot that are odd. He is physically gifted, immature at times, and most significantly, a man who lives by his own rules. In other words, the opposite of Tom Brady.
The Patriot Way does not seem like something Newton will enthusiastically embrace, yet his incentive-laden one-year deal is a no-brainer for both sides. Even if this experiment implodes immediately, there will be a minuscule price to pay.
Think about it. Let’s say Jarrett Stidham plays every snap for the Patriots next season, whether it’s because he beats out Newton or because Newton can’t stay healthy. One of two things happens: New England has its quarterback of the future or knows Stidham isn’t a viable long-term option.
An awful season from Stidham puts the Patriots near the top of a draft featuring two generational quarterback talents in Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and Ohio State’s Justin Fields. That is indisputably a win for Bill Belichick.
For Newton, it’s not like he passed up a better opportunity. Teams weren’t exactly lining up to sign him. If he wants to revive his career, New England is his best bet. It might not work out, but that doesn’t mean he’ll regret the decision.
Should Newton perform well but clash with Belichick, they go their separate ways after the season. The Patriots remain playoff contenders and Newton’s market is dramatically improved next offseason. No harm done there either.
There’s also a chance Newton is exactly the kind of quarterback Belichick wants to replace Brady. Versatility is one of the defining characteristics of New England’s recent rosters. Everywhere except quarterback, that is.
Newton possesses the kind of raw talent Belichick could benefit from in his quest to prove he doesn’t need Brady to be successful. An entire new world of possibilities exists with the ball in the hands of a physical specimen like Newton.
Should this unlikely partnership thrive, New England would then begin the process of signing Newton to a longer deal with a full season of first-hand experience for a maximum price of $7.5 million. That’s chump change when the other option at quarterback is on a rookie contract.
There is no doubt this could go spectacularly wrong. It’s not even clear if Newton was signed to be the starter.
None of that matters when a franchise that has known nothing but success for two decades has a quarterback problem and a 31-year-old former MVP is available for next to nothing.
Especially not when there is absolutely nothing to lose.
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