The Cam Newton experiment in New England will continue for at least a little while longer. According to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe, the Patriots are re-signing the veteran quarterback to a one-year deal. The contract that will keep Newton in Foxborough through the 2021 season is worth $14 million, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Newton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last summer as the club was searching for a signal-caller to fill the shoes of Tom Brady, who departed the organization in free agency last year by signing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Newton eventually earned the starting job prior to the start of the regular season and was also named team captain, which is a noteworthy nugget to point to, suggesting he quickly established himself as a leader within the locker room.
Out of the gate, Newton did perform well, with solid performances against the Dolphins in the opener and a stellar showing in a Week 2 loss to the Seahawks, where he threw for 397 yards. However, a spat with COVID-19 that forced him out of Week 4 seemed to be a catalyst that derailed Newton and the Patriots as the season progressed and they ultimately missed the postseason for the first time since 2008.
“I was one of the first football players to catch it, and it happened so fast,” Newton recently told former NFL receiver Brandon Marshall on his “I Am Athlete” podcast of his COVID diagnosis, via the Boston Globe. “When I came back, that’s where the lack of an offseason and the lack of time in the system really showed itself. I was behind and I was thinking too much. The offense kept going and I was stagnant for two weeks. It was all new terminology. I wasn’t just trying to learn a system for what it was, I was learning a 20-year system in two months.”
In that interview, Newton also confirmed that he would not retire and was open to a return to New England saying, “I’m getting tired of changing. I’m at the point in my career where I know way more than I knew last year.”
While the passing attack did leave much to be desired, Newton showed that he can still be a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Despite Newton’s late-season struggles passing the football and a couple of showings where he was benched in-game for backup Jarrett Stidham, Bill Belichick never ousted Newton as his starter. Instead, the head coach was pretty emphatic in his praise of his quarterback, which was one of the first signals that suggested this may not be just a one-year tenure. Belichick’s fondness of Newton reportedly wasn’t a big secret either, as Ben Volin of The Boston Globe recently reported that the head coach has continued to rave about him throughout the offseason.
Of course, the one-year nature of this deal suggests that the Patriots could still be in on other quarterbacks who could be their long-term option. However, if the season started today, Newton is the clear QB1 to start 2021.