There are plenty of questions the New England Patriots will have to answer this offseason, but none is as big as what they will do at the quarterback position. Will the team draft a new passer? Invest considerable resources in a free agent or trade acquisition? Bring back last year’s starter, Cam Newton?
While all of the options appear to be on the table at this point in time, not all of them are equally popular — at least when it comes to former Patriots defender Rodney Harrison. Appearing on Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast, Harrison was asked his thoughts about Bill Belichick possibly bringing Newton back for another season. Safe to say that he is no fan of this potential outcome.
“That’d be the worst decision he’s ever made,” said Harrison. “That would be the worst decision he ever made, because now you’re not being fair to your team. You’re not being fair to your team. When I saw what I saw with Cam… Every time I saw Cam play pretty much I was hurt because I was a guy that believed in Cam. And when you see him drop back and he continues to throw the ball into the ground — threw it five feet, threw it five yards above somebody else you’re like, ‘What are you doing, Cam?’”
Newton joined the Patriots relatively late during the offseason last year, and earned the starting quarterback job in training camp. All in all, he started 15 of 16 games — he missed one contest after being a positive Covid-19 test — but posted some uninspiring numbers: the long-time Carolina Panthers QB completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards as well as 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
Newton did perform well as a runner by gained 592 and 12 touchdowns on 137 carries, but his passing was simply not good enough to help New England’s struggling offense. Now a free agent, the 31-year-old is therefore far from a lock to come back.
According to Harrison, he should not return anyway.
“Trust me, we’re all fans, and we’re Patriots fans, but we are football fans,” he said. “We want to see these young men do well in their lives and in their livelihood. A lot of people were sitting back rooting for Cam, but I would say this: You have to find a quarterback, and it would be a terrible mistake for Bill Belichick to bring Cam back because Cam can’t play football anymore. He just can’t play quarterback in the National Football League.”
With both Newton and Brian Hoyer headed toward free agency, the Patriots have only two quarterbacks under contract for 2021: Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala, neither of whom having started an NFL game so far.