New England Patriots Name Cam Newton Their Week 1 Starter
The New England Patriots finally made the long-awaited announcement official.
On Thursday, the team named free agent signing and veteran quarterback Cam Newton their starter for the Week 1 season opener against the Miami Dolphins, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
With that, the 2015 league MVP is officially the successor to Tom Brady in New England.
When Brady left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency (a two-year, $50 million contract), the belief was that they would make sophomore Jarrett Stidham the starter.
Newton was released by the Carolina Panthers in March. He remained a free agent until the Patriots signed him on June 28, which meant that Stidham probably wouldn’t be the starter after all.
Head coach Bill Belichick didn’t rule out the idea of a “platoon” quarterback system, which would have also included veteran backup Brian Hoyer. But ultimately and unsurprisingly, he decided to make Newton the starter.
Newton missed all but two games last season due to a foot injury that required surgery. The Panthers decided to sign free agent Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million contract, marking the end of the Newton era in Carolina.
But Belichick has a long history of helping veteran players revive their careers when other teams believe they’re well past their primes. Newton is only 31 years of age, which is still young for a quarterback, so the Patriots have good reason to believe that he’ll produce at a Pro Bowl-like level.
The Patriots haven’t had a losing season since 2000, and they last missed the playoffs in 2008. If Newton can stay healthy and return to his old form, the Patriots’ postseason appearance streak should remain intact.
As for Stidham, he’ll have to keep on waiting for his turn. Even if Newton has a major bounce-back season, he could end up signing a lucrative contract elsewhere in 2021 free agency, which could open the door for Stidham to start.
But that’s all for another day. Right now, the focus is on Newton preparing for the next chapter of his career with the dynastic Patriots.
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