With the possible exception of the Patriots attending Trevor Lawrence’s Pro Day meaning they’re prepping a Godfather offer for the quite-probably-generational Clemson prospect*, the quarterback situation here in New England is most likely going to have to be resolved between now and draft day.
*the Patriots attending Trevor Lawrence’s Pro Day absolutely does not mean that they’re prepping a Godfather offer, but it’s fun to think about other teams worrying about Bill actually doing it.
And given that that’s the case, it’s entirely understandable that the no-man’s-land quandary of finding an at-least-replacement-level quarterback has cause enough turmoil and stress in New England even before Valentine’s Day that it just might outrank the turmoil and stress caused by....well, Valentine’s Day itself.
Which brings us to this interview on Tuesday with NBC Sports Boston alum and current NFL Network reporter Mike Giardi on WEEI’s Dale & Keefe, where Mike ballparks a surprisingly high number for the possibility of Cam Newton slinging the rock for the New England Patriots in 2021:
(“Surprisingly high” because, for a lot of us, it’s higher than “0”)
Obviously, that assessment, however accurate it may be, registers as an 11 out of 10 on the WTF-ness meter, unless you’re one of the types who lays the blame for everything that went south at the quarterback position in 2020 at the feet of everyone except Cam.
Having said that, though - and let’s be real, there’s no way anyone’s changing their take on Cam at this point one way or another - it makes complete sense that the Patriots should be at least comfortable with the idea of bringing Cam back. Depending, of course, on the circumstances. Which, quite honestly, has a Star-Wars-extended-universe level of possibilities, but let’s try to be as logical and pragmatic as Bill deciding a free agent Pro Bowl special teamer’s contract value here.
Barring a SEISMIC move by either the Patriots or someone else, the following three items are at least mostly/probably true:
- The consensus top-four quarterbacks in the draft will be long gone by the time the Patriots draft at pick No. 15 (and who knows how they actually feel about any of them anyway).
- Any quarterback the Patriots could take at pick 15 or lower (whether that means a trade down, a second-round choice, or any combination of those two) is historically likely to, to put it gently, not really work out.
- As far as potential free-agent options go, sorry to be blunt about this, but any quarterback available to sign is going to fall into the category of either washed veteran, replacement-to-sub-replacement level, draft bust, or any kind of Long Island Iced Tea type combo of all the aforementioned categories.
Now, for those of you who are getting the cold sweats right now over the idea of “I can’t do another season of Cam, I just can’t dude”, here’s where that whole “circumstances” part gets kinda-sorta important.
- Nobody’s saying Cam should be the unquestioned starter.
- Nobody’s saying Cam won’t have to earn his spot, the same as......literally every player from Isaiah Zuber to Dont’a Hightower will on the 2021 Patriots.
- Nobody’s saying Cam is The Answer at quarterback, necessarily, for the short term or for the rest of his career.
Going back to that whole “let’s be pragmatic” thing, though — what could be the harm in bringing Cam back, especially if there’s another plan in place to address the position to at least provide some competition?
If the team is open to bringing Cam back and either bringing in a veteran free agent - which, like we mentioned above, the options there are not exactly gonna knock your socks off — or snagging a developmental prospect in the draft, à la the Jimmy Garoppolo Experience, then, not to belabor the point, but that’s a guy in Cam who knows The System™ and theoretically should be able to beat out his competition.....
......unless, of course, his competition proves to be better than him.
That also takes into account that the Patriots should, and will almost certainly, upgrade their offensive (god I hate this cliche) WEAPONS this offseason. They have the cap space, and they can hardly afford not to. But that’ll benefit, in this hypothetical future, both quarterbacks: if you really want to get loose and say the Patriots manage to sign, let’s say, Allen Robinson or something, that should make life much easier for any quarterback to show Bill Belichick & Co what they’ve got.
This last little bit is pure conjecture, but based on everything we’ve seen since.....2011 or so, Cam Newton is not and should not be afraid of a training camp Tough Mudder to see who deserves to run out of the tunnel as the Patriots 2021 starting quarterback.
Competition breeds excellence, and whether Cam is competing for the job or being competed against, that’s a reality that anyone who genuinely wants to see the playoffs again should embrace.
Unless, like PFF, you’d prefer to tank. In which case, have fun with that. We’re all entitled to our own beliefs, of course.