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How signing Cam Newton shakes up the Patriots’ quarterback depth chart

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Related: Patriots sign QB Cam Newton to a 1-year, “incentive-laden” deal

NFL: SEP 12 Buccaneers at Panthers Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The New England Patriots dominated the NFL headlines on Sunday night. Not only did the league announce its penalties for the videotaping violation against the Cincinnati Bengals last December — please click here if you haven’t seen them yet — the Patriots also added to their quarterback depth chart by bringing a former league MVP on board: New England signed long-time Carolina Panthers passer Cam Newton to a one-year free agency pact.

The deal does not just give the Patriots a Pro-Bowl-caliber talent at the most important position in the game, it also drastically shakes up the team’s current quarterback depth chart entering Year One after Tom Brady’s free agency departure. With that said, let’s take a closer look at the five players who are currently under contract at the position and are therefore fighting not just for the starting job but also roster spots and practice squad roles.

Jarrett Stidham

Experience: 1

Opening day age: 24

Size: 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2022 (2023 UFA)

The Patriots originally added Stidham in the fourth round of last year’s draft, and he went on to win the backup spot behind Brady for the 2019 season. With the future Hall of Famer now in Tampa Bay, though, the 23-year-old was seen as the front-runner to take over the QB1 spot this summer: he has one year of experience in the team’s system, and reportedly progressed well over the course of his rookie campaign. Stidham may very well still be the favorite even with Newton around, but winning the starting gig this year just became a lot more of a challenge for him.

Cam Newton

Experience: 9

Opening day age: 31

Size: 6-foot-5, 245 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2020 (2021 UFA)

Based on his career in the NFL so far, Newton should be seen as the favorite to earn the Patriots’ starting quarterback role this year: the first overall draft pick in 2011, he has been voted to three Pro Bowls and was named the league’s most valuable player in 2015. The 31-year-old has struggled with injury over the last few years, however, and will have to get up to speed quickly to challenge Stidham for the starting gig. He has all the tools to do that and adds intriguing upside to the equation, but his one-year deal speaks volumes: the Patriots are giving Newton a chance, but he himself has to take advantage of it.

Brian Hoyer

Experience: 11

Opening day age: 34

Size: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2020 (2021 UFA)

The most experienced quarterback on the Patriots’ roster right now, Hoyer is on his third stint in New England. His last one ended with him losing the battle for the backup quarterback gig against Stidham last year: Hoyer was released for salary cap reasons but instead of returning to the Patriots joined the Indianapolis Colts. He eventually returned after his release earlier this offseason, but now finds himself in a difficult position with both Stidham and Newton projected to be higher up on the depth chart than the 34-year-old.

J’Mar Smith

Experience: Rookie

Opening day age: 23

Size: 6-foot-0, 220 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2022 (2023 RFA)

With Stidham, Newton and Hoyer all ahead of him on the depth chart, Smith will have to surprise in his first NFL training camp to make the team as a backup quarterback. Unless injury strikes, the undrafted rookie is therefore not expected to see any notable playing time in his first year in the system. That said, the Louisiana Tech product should be used quite a bit in preseason and — if he makes either the 53-man roster or more realistically the practice squad — as a scout team QB as well.

Brian Lewerke

Experience: Rookie

Opening day age: 23

Size: 6-foot-2, 215 pounds

Contract status: Under contract through 2022 (2023 RFA)

Another undrafted rookie signed as a free agent this year, Lewerke is expected to battle against Smith for a backup role on the quarterback depth chart. As is the case with his fellow rookie QB, however, anything more than him making the practice squad against the current competition would be a surprise: Lewerke is as raw a passer as they come, and lacks both the experience and the upside of other options in the Patriots’ current quarterback room.