Disclaimer – Cam Newton is a very fine person and has a wonderful personality. The following column solely addresses the many reasons and observations that underscore the rationale that Cam Newton, despite being a former NFL MVP and by all accounts, a wonderful human being and teammate, can no longer function as quarterback of the New England Patriots.
OK, 10,000 may be a little aggressive but there a more than a few reasons not to bring him back and as murmurs continue to surface suggesting that Newton actually could return to quarterback the Patriots in 2021, I’m chronicling every single one that I can think of here today to make the strongest case I can against.
1. The Pick
I’ve been screaming this from the mountain tops for several months in regards to Cam Newton and have mentioned it in this this space more than once; most recently seen here: Making the case for the Patriots to trade up in the Draft. If Newton leaves in free agency, the Patriots stand to gain a compensatory 2022 draft pick and it could be as high as a third-round selection. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe the most trusted reporter in the entire world covering the NFL, Adam Schefter. Shortly after the Patriots signing of Cam Newton, Schefter tweeted the following:
Right from the horse’s mouth. I favorited Schefter’s tweet that very night and never forgot it. Based on what I’ve been hearing and reading over the last few weeks though, many in these parts do not recall that important tidbit from Schefter from late last June. Let’s break that Schefter tweet down. “If Cam Newton plays well in 2020, and leaves as a free agent, the Patriots could get back a compensatory 2022 third-round pick.” The word ‘well’ is a little scary because we all know that Newton didn’t play well last season. However, he was a starting NFL quarterback for the entire 2020 season (save for one game) and did have some moments throughout the year that helped fuel seven wins. So some sort of Draft compensation would seem to be in play and Schefter’s tweet at the outset outlined a pretty specific potential result, a third-round pick.
Perhaps this is why we’re hearing so much reporting on the ‘big sell job’ rumored to be coming out of Foxboro that Newton actually could return in 2021. I’d do the same thing if I needed to fill as many positions as the Patriots need to address this offseason. Oversell Cam’s value and try to reap the reward of a third-round pick? Yeah. All day.
I’d be seeking all the Draft capital I could get if I was in Belichick’s chair. So here’s my synopsis on this one ...
In the best-case scenario, a 2022 third-round pick offers far greater in value than retaining Cam Newton and it’s not close. In the worst case scenario, would it be a 2022 fifth- or sixth-round pick? OK, then I’d still take that value over Newton. A seventh-round pick? Still a yes for me and the reason is the field, which is ripe, rich and fertile.
2. The Field
Lots of quarterbacks available. It starts in free agency this month, plus the trade market and again in the NFL Draft. With all due respect to Newton and I do respect him, I’d pretty much take all of them over him at this point. Remember, you can potentially get anyone of these players listed below, plus several other names in addition to the aforementioned compensatory pick over ‘just keeping’ Newton.
Here are the most realistic trade suitors. Each can be gotten in a reasonable exchange:
1. Jimmy Garoppolo. Yes.
2. Marcus Mariota. Yes.
3. Gardner Minshew. Yes.
Free Agents that best fit the need:
1. Mitch Trubisky. Yes.
2. Jacoby Brissett. Yes. (Pats need a starter and a backup).
3. Ryan Fitzpatrick. Yes. (My favorite bridge option in the ‘trade-up in the draft’ scenario).
4. Jameis Winston. Sure. If the price is right.
5. Nick Mullens. Yes. Cheap and a little intriguing in a Minshew sort of way.
6. Tyrod Taylor. OK. (Not a resounding yes but again the comp pick)…
- Andy Dalton. Alright, I think I’ll punt on the comp pick on this one. I just can’t...
3. The Draft
Get your man. All of the above veteran quarterback options offer either a shot at some upside or minimally, a better chance to compete with improved play at the most important position next year. Save for Garoppolo and maybe select others, none have the upside potential to solve the problem long-term. Regardless of who the veteran is, the Patriots biggest problem is best solved in April. The names above are the best bridge options, but the names below are the real answer to seek.
The trade-up for guys:
1. Zach Wilson. Hell yes.
2. Justin Fields. Hell yeah.
3. Trey Lance. Yes please.
Pick No. 15:
4. Mac Jones. Yes. Warming up to this one more and more.
Preferred trade down guys:
5. Kyle Trask. Yes.
6. Sam Dehlinger. Yes.
Final more reasons to move away from Cam:
1. He’s a quarterback and he just can’t make the throws anymore.
2. The throwing motion due to his obviously lagging shoulder doesn’t function well enough anymore. Doubtful that will improve as he and his shoulder ages.
3. Newton is a terrible screen passer, airmailing his passes, leaving his valuable short range pass catchers like James White out to dry. It’s not just ugly, it’s hazardous.
4. Confidence. If you watched last season you could literally see the second guessing in his eyes. It was tough to watch at times. Newton was searching for it too often, not reacting to what he sees. Admittedly an instinctive player, the Patriots system doesn’t appear to match his natural strengths well at all; strengths that are obviously in steep decline.
5. What ails Cam in the shoulder and in his mind don’t appear to be fixable in this situation, a clean break would help him as much as it will the Pats.
6. With so many alternatives noted above, why look back? If I were to look back I’d rather look back to what worked for the 20 years prior, not to the one losing season the Pats just had. Success leaves clues, so does failure. The 2020 season was a failure. Learn from it.
Lastly, no more Mr. Nice Guy. Newton from every possible angle seems a truly genuine and thoughtful person, as noted in the lighthearted disclaimer at the top. He was accountable at every turn for his lagging performance all season long and never lost his dignity; to the contrary, my respect for him raised significantly this season just listening to him. For that Mr. Newton I salute you.
For 2021 however, in New England those very real strengths of Cam’s aren’t what’s needed. What’s needed is modern NFL quarterbacking performance and frankly after all the nice guy talk, maybe a little bit of attitude. Attitude that shows on the field this time please.