The New England Patriots finally pulled the trigger on the big-name free-agent signing experts had been predicting over the past few months. Cam Newton is in the fold, but what does that mean for others on the roster? Here are the bigger winners and losers from the deal.
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While you could make a good case that the former NFL MVP is being underpaid at just over $1 million per season, even with incentives that can push the value of the one-year deal over $7 million. However, he finds himself in a position where his path to a starting role is as clear as anywhere he could have landed. He’s also playing for a great coaching staff with the greatest ever at the helm.
The best thing that could happen for McDaniels’ resume is for him to have played a role in the success of a quarterback not named Tom Brady. McDaniels would have had that chance and challenge with Jarrett Stidham, but in Newton, he gets to work with a more proven commodity who will be coming in with something to prove.
If there is anyone in the history of the NFL who has nothing else to prove, it’s Belichick. Still, he’s a competitor and a bit of a scientist. He’ll love to be a part of the Patriots winning with a different quarterback too.
Throughout Newton’s career, he has thrived with go-up-and-get-it receivers. Kelvin Benjamin is one example, and Devin Funchess (who was a hybrid WR-TE), but second-year-pro Harry has the kind of physical tools to fill that role with Newton.
Harry has been working hard in the offseason, and don’t be surprised if you see him catching WR screens and deep sideline routes where his athleticism has a chance to shine.
Like Newton, Sanu has plenty to prove in 2020. He could be fighting to keep his job during training camp, and chemistry with Newton could be important. Both are veterans who should know each other well from their days in the NFC South as members of the Carolina Panthers and Atlanta Falcons, respectively.
Stidham’s time might still come in a Patriots uniform, but chances are, it won’t be in 2020. Unless Newton falls flat or is injured, Stidham’s straight path for the starting job has taken a sharp turn.
Expect Stidham to compete like a maniac to win the starting job, but it’s not a competition he’s expected to win.
At one point it looked as if Smith had a great chance to make the team as the third QB. Newton’s signing would seemingly reduce those chances. Barring some sort of standout performance in the preseason that defies all understanding, Smith’s best hope is the scout team.
If division rivals were looking to feast on an inexperienced Patriots quarterback, they aren’t likely to get that opportunity in 2020. Newton is anything but inexperienced, and he’s highly motivated to succeed.