The New England Patriots have a full-blown quarterback competition at their hands that will be taking place when training camp starts. Jarrett Stidham and Cam Newton will be battling for the top spot, and the right to be the first person to start the season as QB1 for the Patriots after the Tom Brady era. The winner of that battle, however, will be Cam Newton — and here are three reasons why.
Reason No. 1: History
The simple way to look at this competition is by analyzing what we know and what we have seen in the past. Cam Newton is a former league MVP who is invigorated and ready to prove that he still has the ability to be a legit starter in the NFL. The rest of the league may not have been willing to wait for him, but the Patriots were, and once his price tag went down, they pounced and signed him to a one-year contract that carries a salary cap hit of just $1.14 million.
Stidham, on the other hand, has thrown four career passes in the NFL. Whether or not the coaching staff was happy with his progress in practice last season, he has no real game experience. Also, consider that Newton was the first overall selection in the 2011 draft, whereas Stidham was a fourth-round pick last year, and this part of the argument becomes clear: Newton has a combination of pedigree and talent, and therefore offers a higher ceiling for the 2020 season than Stidham.
Reason No. 2: Lack of an offseason
Not having an offseason due to the Coronavirus pandemic has hurt Stidham. In a year where there is going to be so much transition anyway, it’s hugely important for him to have had time with the team. Time to build rapport. Time for his teammates to look at him as a locker room leader. And time for him to get acclimated to the fact that he’s going to be the starter. He obviously did not get that chance, however.
This leaves the door open for another quarterback to come in and be the leader — one that has already proven that he can successfully fill that role. Also, with an abbreviated offseason, including possibly no preseason games, having a veteran QB who has real experience should be a benefit to the team. A player like Newton, who can command a locker room with his name and personality alone, could be a real benefit for a team and offense in transition following Brady’s free agency departure.
Reason No. 3: The best for Jarrett Stidham
You might think that’s crazy, but hear me out. Whoever is the starter this season is going to have a tough time. They are replacing the best player in NFL history, and will never be good enough to live up to that. For Stidham, that means never really winning over the home crowd. If he replaces Newton, however, all he has to do is be as good as the ex-Carolina Panthers QB was in 2020.
Of course, he will eventually be compared to Brady — that’s inevitable — but he won’t be the guy who took over for Brady. That, in turn, will help him in the long run. Who knows if Stidham will even be here for the long haul, but, if he is, not being the first quarterback to take over after a six-time Super Bowl winner left should help him.
So, there you have it. Three reasons why Cam Newton will be the starter for the Patriots this season. I think it’s a strong argument, and I can certainly see the 31-year-old establishing himself as New England’s top choice at quarterback over the next few weeks. That said, make sure to come back tomorrow, when I make a case for Jarrett Stidham.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast
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