Cam Newton’s transition to the Patriots

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In the end, Cam Newton and the New England Patriots made too much sense for each other. In a league filled with all other starting quarterback opportunities, the Patriots gave the former NFL player of choice his only realistic chance of being a Week 1 starter on a competitive team. And while I have no doubt that the Patriots still believe that Jarrett Stidham is capable of being a starter at the NFL level, the chance to acquire the 2015 MVP when the alternatives were Stidham and Brian Hoyer would always interest the coach. Bill Belichick at the right price.We may not know if Belichick delayed Newton’s signing time to coincide with the news that the Patriots had lost a third-round pick from the last in their series of inquests, but by the time we arrive in September, it won’t matter. New England could have entered into the offseason market by agreeing to make deals with Newton for one year, apparently for the bare minimum. Newton can also would have up to $ 7.5 million in incentives, before it is likely to be able to return to the market under much better circumstances in 2021.

Go to the note for the case

Facts About Newton’s Post-MVP Career

For starters, there is very little risk here for the Patriots. They only have about $ 1.8 million in cap, so depending on how the incentives are structured, they may need to create additional space to get Newton contracted. They can do this by extending guard Joe Thuney or by cutting someone like Rex Burkhead, Deatrich Wise Jr. or Jermaine Eluemunor. If Newton is injured or is unable to beat Stidham, New England would likely be only about $ 1 million. When you consider that the organization paid Antonio Brown more than $ 9 million for a game last season, you can see how much the Patriots have to lose by adding Newton.

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Of course, that’s the $ 7 million question. If we knew Newton was in good health, it is unlikely to be available on the market for the minimum in the league. He hasn’t been healthy for a regular season snapshot since the first half of 2018, and with the coronavirus rampaging across America this spring and summer, no team has been able to get Newton for a workout or a physique. It was going to be impossible for a team to commit to it as a starter with big money, even if it was a better option than someone like Nick Foles or Gardner Minshew.

The chances of a healthy – or at least a lot healthier – version of Newton for the Patriots this season are much better than some suggest. The idea that he hasn’t been a valuable quarterback since his 2015 MVP campaign is a product of selective memory. Let’s take a quick look at recent history to explain why I’m optimistic.

Newton was not very good in 2016, when an injured Carolina Panthers team fell from 15-1 to 6-10. His line was battered by injuries and his widest receiver was Kelvin Benjamin, who is no longer in football. The Denver Broncos devastated Newton in their rematch of the Super Bowl in Week 1, and would end up missing a concussion before returning to the field. He finished 25th in QBR that year with 47.1, falling just below the Miami Dolphins beginner and recently successful recovery project Ryan Tannehill at 48.6. (If you think Newton was made because of his injury history, consider that Tannehill tore an ACL at the end of this season, did it again during the following off season, missed time with an injury on the shoulder in 2018 and still won a huge contract after having the chance to play in 2019.)

In 2017, while Newton did not return to his MVP form, he was still a useful quarterback. Although he lost Greg Olsen for most of the season and general manager Dave Gettleman chose to make a disastrous investment in left forward Matt Kalil, Newton finished 19th in QBR at 51.5 . He was efficient enough as a passer and runner to lead a Panthers team 11-5 and a playoff spot.

In week 4 of 2017, he delivered one of his most impressive performances of the season. The former Auburn star scored 22 of 29 goals for 316 yards with three touchdowns and one interception while adding 44 yards and one touchdown while defeating the Patriots at Foxborough 33-30. Newton also won his previous game against the Pats in 2013. His combined line against Belichick earned him a passer rating of 128.2, while carrying the ball 15 times over 106 yards. I don’t think Belichick made his decision based on two games, but the man knows how difficult it can be to stop a healthy Newton.

Hoping to keep him healthy and build a more effective attack around combining his skills with that of ball carrier Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers made changes during the 2018 offseason. Norv Turner is arrived, which surprisingly installed a more modern attack than that which Newton directed under Mike Shula. The Panthers used their first two picks on the fainting spells of DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel, although the latter was also injured. Olsen was running out of time and the offensive line was paved due to injuries, but there was more around Newton than there had been in the previous three seasons.

Cam Newton had only 89 assists last season before a foot injury caused him to miss the Panthers’ last 14 games. Carolina released him in March. Ronald Martinez / Getty Images

Newton played great football in the first half of 2018. Carolina was 6-2 in the NFC South and finished 10th in the league in the bystanders (100.8) and 12th in the QBR (63.1). . Often one of the deepest average passers-by in football, he received shorter passes to throw and magically improved his completion percentage to 67.3. The former first overall pick averaged nearly four touchdowns for each interception and produced nearly 280 yards of scrimmage per game. He was fourth in my mid-season MVP newsletter that year.

The Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Panthers 52-21 in week 10. Pretty soon it became clear that Newton’s right shoulder was a problem. He struggled with zip shots in the second half of the season, and as he battled the injury before finally sitting down in late December, the Panthers collapsed in the second half. He had shoulder surgery after the season.

It’s important to make this distinction, because if you weren’t paying attention to the Panthers last summer and before the preseason, you might have missed important information. Clearly, Newton has recovered from this shoulder injury. A camp report hailed the return of his deep ball, which had disappeared due to a shoulder injury the previous year. He seemed to be back on schedule to return as the Panthers’ main quarterback, and although I’m sure there would have been growing pains, there was nothing to suggest that he was still hampered by his shoulder when the next injury.

Newton suffered a left foot injury to Lisfranc in a loss before the Belichick Patriots. He spent the rest of the preseason before coming back for week 1, but when I watched Newton play against the Los Angeles Rams, I didn’t see a quarterback fighting for speed or speed. arm strength. The way he moved and the number of passes he covered more than his receptors, it was clear that he was not comfortable planting his foot. After the problem became more apparent in a Thursday night loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the following week, the Panthers stopped him. When the injury did not heal with rest, the Panthers placed Newton on an injured reserve, ending his season.

While an injury to Lisfranc can be disastrous for receivers, it is generally not an injury that affects the career of quarterbacks. Matt Schaub hit the injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury in 2011 and returned to make the Pro Bowl the following season. Taysom Hill suffered an injury to Lisfranc in college, and while it cost BYU quarterback most of his past year, he was able to return and move very well. Newton is expected to be recovered from 2018 shoulder surgery and 2019 foot surgery.

Is it possible that Newton simply took too many hits and became fragile? I suppose, but we have many examples of shifts who suffered multiple serious injuries and were able to rebuild their careers. Tannehill, almost a year older than Newton, comes to mind. Randall Cunningham suffered an ACL injury at a time when she threatened her career a lot more and returned at 35 to offer an All-Pro season for the Minnesota Vikings. Steve McNair fought injury after injury and was a Pro Bowl passer at the ages of 32 and 33. I do not know if Newton will return to his former self, but it is premature to write him off.

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1:53

Dan Orlovsky explains how Cam Newton will be used with the Patriots, saying that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels will find new ways to use his skills.

What could the Patriots’ offensive look like?

A healthy Newton must be considered the favorite to win the starting quarterback position in New England. Stidham was on the verge of becoming the second player in league history after the No. 100 pick to start for his side in week 1 of his second season after not starting as a rookie. While the Patriots were sufficiently optimistic about Stidham’s chances of avoiding a bigger move before now, the most we can say on the fourth round of 2018 is that it represented something completely unknown.

Before Newton’s signing, there was already evidence that the Patriots were going to change their offense. Even the most optimistic Patriots fan couldn’t suggest that Stidham was going to be Tom Brady. He was not going to have Brady’s precision, the experience of reading defenses or the ability to avoid turnovers. It was never going to happen.

What the Patriots did during this off-season, instead, was built around a heavier attack. They put the franchise label on Thuney, which means the Pats are expected to spend nearly $ 28 million on guards this season, 6.5 million more than any other team. They recovered David Andrews after their home center had missed the entire season with pulmonary embolism; signed side back Danny Vitale to replace retired James Develin; then used a pair of third round picks on tight ends Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi, both of whom are considered more blockers.

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With Stidham, this offense would likely have looked like a modern version of the Patriots’ 2001 attack, when they had something closer to a 50/50 run / pass split. Brady’s job was to convert the third friendly tries and protect the football. It worked: the Patriots were 11th in attacking DVOA and won a Super Bowl with a defense that was only 13th in DVOA. The Patriots 2020 should be much better than those in defense. This formula was going to be competitive with the Buffalo Bills for a division title before even adding Newton.

If Newton wins the job, the Patriots will likely build something closer to the offensive he worked under during his stay with Turner in Carolina. As the Panthers tried to get the ball out of Newton’s hands faster, concerns about the accuracy and efficiency that might have otherwise passed him off and the Patriots as a poor fit have disappeared. He only had four interceptions and four fumbles in the first half of the 2018 campaign. It’s an outlier considering the rest of his career, but it’s also the only time that Carolina hasn’t had a healthy Cam in an offense when they expected him to make an average of 10 yards per attempt.

You can also see the Patriots borrowing concepts that have worked elsewhere. It wouldn’t be shocking if they stole ideas from Greg Roman’s playbook for Lamar Jackson and used large doses of movement to manipulate teams and create opportunities for Newton as a runner. New England has always been aggressive in trying to stay ahead of the offensive curve and trying to build their attack around what is undervalued. In 2007, the team switched to Randy Moss and Wes Welker and became a general attack. Three years later, he drafted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez and became a 12-person offense. When Chip Kelly grabbed the Eagles, the Patriots were one of the first teams to really focus on rhythm and rhythm, even before Kelly joined the league. The Ravens may have beaten the Patriots with a punch, but Belichick is not going to cancel the most effective offense in the league as a gimmick.

To me, it all comes down to this: when the Patriots weren’t able to just blow up teams with talent as they could in 2007, their basic attacking concept was versatility. Because they had Gronkowski, Develin, Julian Edelman and a variety of versatile racing backs, the Patriots have always been able to create a lag. They could go on three or four wide and still had the blocking ability to make football work effectively. When they sent 22 staff and pretended they were going to run the ball, they asked the athletes to move or work out of action and beat your basic defense in the passing game. That’s how they won their last Super Bowl.

Last year, with Gronkowski retired, injured Develin and a group of close-knit replacements, the Pats didn’t have the ability to conceal their intentions with their staff or the flexibility to move from concept to concept . They might have wanted to run the ball more efficiently, but when Sony Michel was in the game, they executed the ball 67% of the time; only two players (who played 300 or more offense shots) were a better indicator of whether their team was going to run the ball, and one of them was the back of the Ravens Patrick Ricard. When James White came in, they threw the ball 81.8% of the time; only three other players were a more obvious witness. New England suffered from both running and throwing the ball.

The Patriots did not recover Gronkowski during the off-season, but by restoring themselves at the back and at the tight end, they were able to restore some semblance of versatility. By adding Newton to replace Brady, they have improved this versatility and added uncertainty to the position they did not have in Gronkowski’s time. They were fine without Brady as a race threat considering all he could bring to the table, but if Newton is healthy, he can give them a runner who can get through undersized boxes out of 10 or 11 people or one who can take advantage of it as a pass when the teams load the box to stop the race. In this sense, he replaces Brady less than Gronkowski.

The note: A-minus

That said, although the Patriots don’t incur a lot of financial risk by signing Newton, there is an opportunity cost that drops that grade very slightly. Naturally, there is a chance that he will fail his physique, which would make all of this a waste of time while simultaneously pricking Stidham’s confidence. If Newton remains healthy enough to soak up the majority of the preseason representatives with them and then suffers a late season injury in Week 2, the Patriots will have wasted their time when Stidham could have desperately use these shots.

Even if Newton stays on the field and plays well enough to start, there is a chance it won’t move the Patriots’ needle. If Newton is the 24th best quarterback in football, he will likely reach 9-7, will not be good enough to beat the Chiefs in the playoffs and will likely leave Newton after the season without finding his long-term quarterback. They come in next year with the same questions about Stidham and their future in this job, only with Stidham a year closer to the free agency and the market much less likely to offer starting options.

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1:33

Take a look back at the ups and downs of Cam Newton’s era with the Carolina Panthers.

In this dream scenario in which Newton remains healthy and the Patriots compete for a Super Bowl, there is still a slight drawback for the team. They weren’t able to convince Newton to sign a multi-year deal or get any option on him for 2021 if he excels as a starter. It is unclear whether the Pats will have the right to franchise him after the season if he gets back in shape. They will be able to afford a label for him, since the Pats are projected with more than $ 86 million of ceiling space, but if his side has negotiated a label refusal as part of this agreement, the Patriots n ‘will not have much leverage in re-signing it.

It’s obviously a smart decision for the Patriots, even if it doesn’t work. Just having Newton on his list when he could have served as an upside backup for rivals like the Bills, Ravens, Steelers, Titans and Chiefs would have paid the Patriots. For Patriots, adding a starter with Newton’s benefit at the end of the process is almost a cliché. This has good reason to become the best free agent offseason signature.



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