Cam Newton is a tremendous talent.
After all, the quarterback was the NFL’s MVP in 2015, but the biggest thing with him lately is injuries. The 31-year-old only played in two games last season due to a pedal lisfranc sprain in his foot and has battled numerous injuries over the course of his career.
Part of this is because of his playing style, especially when it comes to running with the ball and taking some big hits in the process. Newton has had at least 100 rushing attempts in all but one year of his career (excluding last year).
One of the narratives with Newton since he joined the Patriots has been him taking better care of his body by perhaps not running as much and how the team could encourage that behavior.
But, given Newton’s situation, it’s hard to imagine the Patriots holding the quarterback back in that regard.
If Newton is healthy enough to run, the Patriots are going to have him do that and not think about preserving his health for two, three and four years down the line.
The Patriots want to get the most out of Newton this season just like the QB wants it for himself. Newton wants to succeed and put up good numbers so he can get a multi-year deal next offseason. If that happens it likely means the Patriots would win quite a bit of games in the process. While nothing can be ruled out, if Newton does have a good season, it’s highly unlikely the organization would pay what he’s worth next offseason, especially with Jarrett Stidham waiting in the wings.
Think of Newton's signing like Darrelle Revis back in 2014 -- a win-win for both sides, which led to the superstar player getting another big contract the following offseason.
If the best version of Newton is him running with the ball when he can and perhaps taking a few big hits here and there, then the Patriots shouldn't try and stop it since New England isn't committed to him beyond this season.
It would be a different story if he was signed to a multi-year deal, but that is not the case. And the same can be said for Newton — why would he want to be held back this year? The 31-year-old is chasing his next contract, which since he will still be in his early 30s next offseason, has the chance to be a big one.
Is it a bit of a gamble allowing Newton to run free when he wants? Probably. But, are the Ravens telling Lamar Jackson not to run? No, because that is part of his game and allowed him to be the NFL’s MVP last season.
This isn’t saying the Patriots should only call RPOs and designed quarterback runs out of the shotgun, but if Newton wants to take off with the ball, let him. If there are plays along the goal-line that are designed for him to keep the ball, let him.
The Patriots didn’t bring in Newton just to generate excitement with the fan base. They brought him in to win football games. That means using all of Newton’s talents, even if that means putting him at risk with the ball in his hands on the run at times.
Consider this: Over Newton’s career with the Panthers, they were 37-15-1 when he had eight or more carries, compared to 31-40 when he had fewer than eight carries.
The Patriots are all about winning and clearly that means not holding Newton back.
So, get ready for it. Superman flying around Gillette Stadium, coming in 2020.