The New England Patriots appear to have cemented their post-Tom Brady blueprint, signing free agent quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year deal reportedly loaded with incentives -- though it's not immediately clear if he will move into the starting spot.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Sunday evening that the former NFL MVP reached terms of a deal with the Patriots. He noted that Newton will now join veteran Brian Hoyer and second-year player Jarrett Stidham as the quarterbacks reporting to training camp for the Patriots in the summer.
While it would appear that the former MVP and Super Bowl starter would rise to the top of the competition, both Schefter and NESN noted that it did not seem set in stone that he would win the job.
"What role will Newton play for the Patriots, however? Only time will tell," the NESN report noted.Before the signing, the Patriots appeared to be moving forward with Stidham as the presumed starter, despite a light resume and lack of playing time during his rookie season behind Brady. Fox Sports Radio host Rich Ohrnberger tweeted last month that it appeared the former fourth-round pick had impressed the Patriots staff enough for them to move forward with him as the starter.
"I've heard it now from A LOT of people close to the Patriots. They really believe in Jarrett Stidham," he wrote in a tweet that you can read here. "Like it or not, Stidham is not a cheap placeholder… he's the future."
At the same time, there were question marks surrounding Newton and whether he had fully recovered from the injury that shortened his 2019 season.
While there may be a competition in training camp for the starting role, it appears the former Panthers quarterback sees himself as the starter. Newton lingered through free agency, being passed over for a number of backup jobs as he reportedly only wanted to sign with a team where he could move into a starting role.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote in April that Newton's long time on the free agency heap could be related to his lingering injury and the fact that he had to change his throwing motion for the first time in eight years in the NFL following rehab last year.
"Newton isn't healthy," Florio wrote. "Or, more accurately, teams interested in Newton aren't able to determine, with the assistance of their own doctors, whether he's healthy. And it's not just the foot injury that derailed his 2019 season as it was beginning that needs to be checked out thoroughly."