It's hard to find any sort of harm that could come of the Patriots signing Cam Newton.
- He costs next to nothing.
- He's trying to revive his career on a one-year deal, meaning he'll be doing everything he can (cough, unlike Brady, cough).
- Even if he doesn't win the starting job, he's insurance in a season in which starting quarterbacks are theoretically going to be missing more time than usual due to COVID.
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Yet if you really, really, really need to find a downside (which we should for the sake of diligence), you'll probably come away with "what will it do to Jarrett Stidham's confidence?"
It's a valid concern and one that I've used to argue against paying real money to another quarterback or drafting one high, but it's only valid to a certain extent. Cam Newton is inexpensive, uncertain competition. There is no way a quarterback who has lived into his 20s has never had to compete for a job.
You can also look at it this way: In 2013, Tom Brady's performance took a real dip. His completion percentage was the second-lowest of his career and his touchdowns plummeted from 36, 39 and 34 in the previous three seasons to 25.
Then the Patriots drafted a quarterback in the second round. Brady, 36, had his successor in the building, and a funny thing happened. The completion percentage went back up to what it was before. He threw for 33 touchdowns, then 36 the year after that. Competition!
And no, Stidham isn't Tom Brady, so it's not the same thing, but it's a useful example. The idea that Stidham can be shaken up by the starting job not being handed to him is realistic, but you've got to consider the possibility that it will light a fire under him. That's far more plausible than thinking he'll be up nights shaking in the fetal position all preseason.
Plus, if Stidham was going to be rattled by competition, he'd already be toast from that pick-six he threw against the Jets last season. He'd never be over it.
Sounds silly, right? That's because it is. The Patriots don't know what their second-year quarterback will be, but if they thought he wouldn't be able to deal with competition, they'd be replacing him anyway.