Former Carolina Panthers quarterback and NFL MVP Cam Newton agreed to a one-year contract with the New England Patriots Sunday night after being in free agency for months.
ESPN’s Ian Rapoport reported that Newton would even consider a backup role in the right place following the 2020 NFL Draft. The Patriots signed Newton for just $1.1 million with some incentives that could increase his yearly salary up to $7.5 million.
The contract Newton agreed to makes him an affordable option in any capacity, leaving many fans speculating what could have been with Newton.
Forbes’ Steve Silverman wrote that the Newton would have been an ideal No. 2 quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings behind starter Kirk Cousins, and even argued he’d be a better fit to lead the Vikings:
“The Patriots and Newton have agreed to a one-year contract that will guarantee him slightly more than $1 million and could see him earn in the $7.5 million range if he can hit his incentives. If Newton is healthy and he develops a positive working relationship with head coach Bill Belichick, it could be a story with a decent ending.
But the Vikings should have been in the mix. While they may stand behind Cousins publicly, do they really think he has the leadership skills to come up with big games when it matters most? If he did have that talent, it would have been demonstrated already. The Redskins never would have let him go and he would have shown something special against Minnesota’s biggest opponents.”
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Comparing Kirk Cousins to Cam Newton
The Vikings extended Cousins’ contract for two more years this offseason as the 31-year-old’s deal is worth over $96 million over the next three years.
Cousins completed 307 of 444 passes for 3,603 yards with 26 touchdowns and 6 interceptions in 2019 for his highest passer rating (107.4) and touchdown-to-interception ratio in his career, earning his first Pro Bowl selection since 2015.
But Cousins struggled in big games by giving up two losses to the Green Bay Packers last season (where he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble). And after his pivotal walk-off touchdown to Kyle Rudolph in overtime against the Saints in the playoffs, the Vikings and Cousins fell flat against the San Francisco 49ers, Silverman said, adding that Newton would make a complement running back Dalvin Cook well:
“He has failed to rise to the occasion in the games that were just mentioned, and he couldn’t perform at a consistently high level during his earlier tenure with the Washington Redskins.
The Vikings are an old-school football team that wants to rely on its running game and its defense. Running back Dalvin Cook is among the best in the league, and while he is posturing for a holdout, he gives the team an explosive characteristic running the ball.
If head coach Mike Zimmer had to go to a backup quarterback named Newton, the running game would be devastating. In addition to Cook’s speed and ability to make tacklers look foolish, the Vikings would be able to double down on the running game with Newton’s skills in that area. While he has taken a lot of hits, he appears to be healthy once again.
Newton is a 6-5, 245-pound tank of a quarterback who can run away from and over tacklers. If he was in the lineup along with Cook, opponents would have a difficult time dealing with that 1-2 punch.”
Newton does have a Super Bowl run under his belt and he does have more playoff experience than Cousins, but his 3-4 record in the postseason is not significantly more reassuring than Cousins’ 1-2 playoff record.
The dilemma with Silverman’s argument, which he lays out, is the Vikings are fully committed to Cousins. Yes, backup Sean Mannion’s $910,000 contract is nearing Newton’s price tag, but that’s without the incentives the Patriots offered which he surely could hit if given the playing time.
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Follow Trevor Squire on Twitter: @trevordsquire