1. Mohamed Sanu seems extremely motivated this offseason, and it goes beyond the social media posts of him working out extremely hard following ankle surgery and meeting up with new quarterback Cam Newton. It’s his attitude towards how his eight games with the Patriots went last season and how he wants to be better in 2020. “It’s tough when you learn things over and over and you memorize things like it’s the back of your hand and you have to completely forget all the things, terminology in 24 hours, something you’ve known for 3.5 years,” he said on The Game 92.9 in Atlanta last week. “It is what it is. When you’re a top elite athlete you’re supposed to adjust and pick it up. It was tough at first and adversity hit, but it is what it is. Right now, I am where I want to be. I didn’t play the best that I felt like I could have last year and that is on me. I internalized that and that’s fine. I accepted it, just know I am not letting that [expletive] happen again.” In Sanu’s eight games with the Patriots he had 26 catches for 207 yards and a touchdown, but 10 receptions and 81 yards came in his first game against Baltimore. Having an attitude of wanting to prove everyone wrong from a year ago is a good thing to see from the 30-year-old. If healthy and performing to his capabilities, he could have a big impact on the Patriots offense in 2020 regardless of who is at quarterback.
2. It’s worth wondering how having Newton at quarterback will impact Julian Edelman. Over the years, Newton hasn’t thrown as much to receivers out of the slot and over the middle than he has to receivers on the outside. There’s no question Edelman is the Patriots’ best receiver, so will Newton change his game, or will the Patriots try and do things a little different with Edelman to appease Newton? Regardless, Edelman will get his fair share of targets, it’s just worth wondering would it be more if Jarrett Stidham was at quarterback?
3. A lot of people are wondering what the addition of Newton means for Stidham, and it’s worth pointing out this doesn’t mean the organization doesn’t believe in him. It was able to get a former NFL MVP on an extremely low-risk contract, which was a no-brainer. It gives Stidham another year to get used to life in the NFL and then potentially become the starter in 2021. Think about it — was Jimmy Garoppolo ready to start games in his second season in the NFL? Probably not. Another year of learning could be a benefit for Stidham. And if he doesn’t take the addition of Newton well from a mental standpoint, doesn’t that mean maybe he’s not ready to be a NFL starter?
4. With that being said, don’t assume Newton is locked in to be the Patriots’ starter come Week 1. Bill Belichick has always picked the best player for the job at any position regardless of who the players are. So if Stidham has a better summer than Newton and gives the Patriots the best chance to win, Stidham will get the the job. It’s highly unlikely Newton sticks around to be the backup, so it’s likely either he’s the Week 1 starter or released following training camp.
5. An interesting stat with Newton coming aboard is the Patriots running game could actually improve. The Panthers ranked among the NFL's top five teams in rushing yards in four of Newton's first eight seasons and never finished worse than 11th. Sure, Newton’s rushing abilities factored into this, but it could open things up for Sony Michel and maybe even second-year player Damien Harris to have big seasons.
6. With word coming this week that the NFL will cut the preseason from four games to two, it also likely means a new preseason schedule will be released in the coming days/weeks. The league reportedly wants to give teams one home game and one away game and while it would work out for the Patriots since their Weeks 2 and 3 preseason games were already home and away, things may need to change to accommodate all other teams.
7. With training camp set to begin in roughly three weeks, it still seems there’s a lot to sort out in terms of protocols with players and personnel at team facilities. It appears a sentiment shared by many is when a question is answered as to how things will go, multiple additional questions relating to that then come up. This is something that will continue right up until the reporting date and it’s worth wondering how many players potentially could opt out of playing like has happened in other sports.