The New England Patriots’ tumultuous offseason took another turn on Sunday, when reports broke that the team had signed Cam Newton to a one-year free agency contract. While it remains to be seen how the former league MVP will adapt to his new environment after nine years with the Carolina Panthers, he instantly adds more experience and proven productivity in the league to a Patriots quarterback room that had lost future Hall of Famer Tom Brady in mid-March.
Newton is no lock to earn Brady’s former starting gig and will have to compete primarily against Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer for that honor, but his pedigree does speak for itself as a serious contender for the job. No matter how the competition will eventually shake out, though, the early reactions to the Patriots bringing the 31-year-old on board have been positive — just ask veteran defensive backs Devin and Jason McCourty, who reacted to the news on the latest episode of their Double Coverage podcast.
“I’m excited. I think Bill [Belichick] always says the goal for any good team is to have as many good players as possible. Cam Newton is a former MVP of this league, played in the Super Bowl — that caliber of a player. I think the better players we have in our locker room, the better we’re going to be able to perform as a team,” Jason said about the move. “Excited to add a new player. More competition is going to bring the best out of all of us.”
“I’m never shocked with anything we do as a Patriots organization,” added Devin. “I feel like everything we do is always in the thought process of trying to win and win championships. I think that’s what it comes down to — trying to make the team better. I’m never surprised when we’re trying to do that. Hopefully we can get together, and when we do get together, everything goes as planned and we can go out there and try to win games.”
While Newton has struggled with injury as of late and saw both his 2018 and his 2019 season come to a premature end, his track record since joining the NFL as the first overall draft pick in 2011 is an impressive one: he has appeared in 125 regular season games as well as seven playoff contests, and has proven himself one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the league has ever seen. Along the way, he has led the Panthers to just their second ever Super Bowl and has been named the league’s most valuable player.
In New England, however, Newton will have to show that he can quickly adapt to his new surroundings to take advantage of the situation — one that will ask him to prove his value against the aforementioned Stidham and Hoyer. For Devin McCourty, however, competition itself is not the only thing the ex-Panther brings to the table: he also elevates the Patriots’ quarterback group as a whole and instantly raises its floor.
“When you add a guy like Cam Newton, it makes our quarterback room even better,” said Devin. “The poise, the jump and the leap you expect for Stiddy to make — I think it’ll be interesting, just training camp and competing and all that. I would think adding him to our quarterback room with B. Hoyer, you have veterans in there, you have young guys in there, I think it’ll give us a really good chance to be good at that position.
“It’s always great to have a bunch of good players, and we’re just trying to add to that,” continued the veteran defender. “A proven veteran entering the locker room is always great [...] to help younger players understand how the league works and how they get better.”
As for Newton himself, Devin feels confident in the abilities that he brings to the table and how the Patriots’ coaching staff around Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels plans to use them. While the newest Patriot is a different kind of player than the one he will help replace, New England’s defensive captain is certain that the team will figure out a way to get the most out of him in 2020.
“If you watched Cam Newton through his career, he’s been a guy that can throw the ball in the pocket, he’s a guy that is athletic and can run around,” he said. “Whether it’s him or Stiddy — because Stiddy has good athleticism, too — I think Josh will figure that out and do what’s best for those guys at the quarterback position like he’s done whether Jimmy [Garoppolo] has been there or Jacoby Brissett has been there. Obviously with TB12, he always finds a way to get the best out of the quarterback position.”