While the Coronavirus pandemic could still force a change of plans, the New England Patriots are currently scheduled to report to training camp on July 28. Once they do, one of the most interesting and consequential position battles in recent memory will be kicked off: Cam Newton versus Jarrett Stidham versus Brian Hoyer versus J’Mar Smith versus Brian Lewerke for the right to serve as the Patriots’ starting quarterback and Tom Brady’s immediate heir this season.
While neither Hoyer nor Smith and Lewerke will likely play much of a role in this race, Newton and Stidham are: they are expected to fight for the QB1 spot this summer. Newton, of course, has the pedigree and intriguing athletic profile. Stidham, on the other hand, has shown considerable promise as New England’s number two last year. There are arguments to be made for both of them, but their actual performance on the practice and preseason fields as well as their ability to adapt to a new situation will be the deciding factors.
Projecting a winner is therefore impossible, but Patriots fans do already have a favorite as SB Nation’s latest Reacts survey shows. Participants were asked who they would think will earn the starting quarterback role come Week One of the regular season, and Newton received the majority of the votes: 66 percent of those participating in the survey took him as their choice as opposed to Stidham’s 32 percent and Hoyer’s two.
Seeing this result is not necessarily a surprise considering that Newton is the most accomplished quarterback the Patriots have on their roster even though he lacks Stidham’s or Hoyer’s experience within offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system. After all, he was a nine-year starter for the Carolina Panthers, was named the league’s most valuable player in 2015 and has three Pro Bowl berths and a Super Bowl appearance on his résumé — all while being one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history.
While Stidham might very well be the quarterback of the long-term future for the Patriots, Newton appears to be the frontrunner heading into the 2020 season. However, if past training camps and preseasons have taught us one thing it is that perception may not necessarily be reality: Stidham and Hoyer will both get equal opportunities to prove that they can carry the offense, and if Newton is slow to get up to speed will try to take advantage.
If you are interested in participating in our NFL Reacts survey, please click here!