The New England Patriots’ quarterback room is expected to see some major turnover this offseason, but the team’s first move was actually making it look a bit more like last year’s: the Patriots will re-sign Cam Newton to a one-year deal and bring the starter back despite what has been a disappointing 2020 campaign for both him and the team’s offense.
With Newton being kept in the fold, the Patriots now have three of four quarterbacks signed that were with them last year as well in some capacity.
Jake Dolegala, Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham
The Patriots were not expected to head into the draft with only Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala under contract, so another veteran addition in free agency was the expected outcome. And all things considered, it was no surprise that veteran turned out to be Cam Newton given his experience in the system and previous statements that he would be open to returning on another one-year deal.
As of right now, Newton therefore remains the clubhouse leader: he was undisputed as the starting quarterback after winning the training camp competition against Stidham and Brian Hoyer, and will likely play a prominent role on the depth chart again in 2021 either as the starter or a backup mentoring a younger player.
Either way, the Patriots keeping Newton gives them plenty of flexibility to approach the most important position on the field this offseason — all at what will likely be a rational financial framework despite initial reports saying his deal will be worth close to $14 million.
The expectation is that Newton’s contract is again heavy on incentives and thus similar to the one he signed last year. New England is therefore keeping itself in solid financial shape without jeopardizing the integrity of its quarterback depth chart.
With Newton being re-signed only one Patriots quarterback remains headed for unrestricted free agency: veteran Brian Hoyer is expected to enter the market once it opens on March 17. While he has plenty of experience in the system after three separate stints as a backup, his disastrous start in place of a Coronavirus-positive Newton last season and subsequent demotion to third-stringer does not bode well for his outlook.
The Patriots eventually not bringing Hoyer back should therefore not surprise anyone. The role of veteran leader is already occupied by Newton, who also offers more upside, while Stidham and Dolegala are depth options behind him. If the Patriots make a play on a free agent quarterback, it will likely be somebody else.
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