Take a few seconds and go back in time. Can you honestly state that you envisioned Cam Newton playing football in a New England Patriots uniform?
For that matter, did you ever envision Teddy Bridgewater, after his own catastrophic leg injury with the Minnesota Vikings, being the quarterback who replaced the iconic Newton in Carolina?
It was not supposed to end this way for Newton in Carolina. This is a former NFL MVP (2015) who was the number-one pick in the 2011 NFL Draft. This is the guy who took the Panthers to a Super Bowl.
As we have documented often in these pages, Newton’s fall was quick and it was full of injuries. Carolina chose to move on after consecutive seasons of wondering if and when Newton would be able to take the field, let alone be effective.
It took quite some time during the offseason for Newton to find a landing area. Most thought Chicago would be a landing spot. New England entered the picture a few months back after Tom Brady left the Patriots for Tampa Bay. It came together this week for Newton and the Pats as a one-year contract was agreed upon.
The one-year deal is reportedly for the league minimum of $1.05 million, but Newton can earn up to $7.5 million based on performance. Last year, Newton made $16.7 million in the final year of his 5-year contract.
Newton is expected to battle for the starting job with second-year quarterback, Jarrett Stidham. It was thought by many that New England head coach Bill Belichick would go with Stidham to prove once and for all that he can win without Brady. It is likely that few REALLY know what goes through Belichick’s head. But one thing is certain. Newton played extremely well against New England.
The Patriots never beat Newton. And do not think for a second that does not have something to do with the signing. Newton went 2-0 against New England with 525 passing yards, 106 rushing yards, six passing touchdowns, and just one interception in those games. His passer rating (128.2) and yards per attempt (9.2) are better against the Patriots than against any other opponent. Newton’s 72 percent completion rate against Belichick’s defenses is second only to his mark against the Steelers. Those two games he’s played against the Patriots, one in 2013 and the other in 2017, are two of the best of his career. And as everyone knows, all Patriots teams during the past decade have been very good.
The performances had to make an impression on Belichick. I did a bit of research and discovered that a number of high profile quarterbacks have never beaten New England. Names like Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins, Andrew Luck, Tony Romo, and Carson Palmer. An even better list has future Hall of Famers with losing records against the Pats. Quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes (1-2), Peyton Manning (8-12), Aaron Rodgers (1-2), Philip Rivers (1-8), Ben Roethlisberger (4-9), and Deshaun Watson (1-2).
It will be interesting to watch the dynamics between Newton and Belichick. Either as the starter or as the reserve who seems to feel he is the best player on the field.
I am not sure what will be more strange for a Panthers fan to see this season on TV, Newton in a New England uniform or Brady in a Tampa Bay uniform; or for that matter, Bridgewater in a Carolina uniform.