Patriots

Cam Newton odds: Patriots still betting favorites for free agent QB

Cam Newton odds: Patriots still betting favorites for free agent QB

Cam Newton surprisingly remains unsigned on the NFL's free agent market.

The 2015 league MVP was released by the Carolina Panthers in March, and despite several teams entering free agency in need of a quarterback, Newton still hasn't found a home.

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One concern teams might have about Newton is his durability. He missed the last 14 games of the 2019 season because of a foot injury. Newton also has taken plenty of hits throughout his nine-year career as a quarterback who's not afraid to escape the pocket and use his legs to make plays in the open field. He's among the best dual-threat QBs of his generation. The counter-argument to the durability concern is that before last season Newton had missed just five games in his first eight seasons with the Panthers. 

It's also difficult for teams to do physicals with players at this time due to COVID-19.

Still, there's no question Newton remains a starting-caliber quarterback at age 31. In 2018 he completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,395 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, in addition to 488 rushing yards and another four touchdowns.

So, which teams could be in the mix for Newton? Oddsmakers still like the New England Patriots as the betting favorites to land the veteran quarterback. Here are the latest betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Patriots make some sense for Newton on paper.

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The only two quarterbacks on New England's depth chart, aside from undrafted free agents, are Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Stidham has shown a lot of potential in the limited preseason and regular season reps he got as a rookie, but he's still very much an unknown. Hoyer, meanwhile, is best suited as a backup. The Patriots aren't making the playoffs if Hoyer has to start the majority of next season's games.

Perhaps the main obstacle in signing Newton is the limited salary cap space the Patriots have at their disposal. Unless Newton is willing to accept an inexpensive contract, it's hard to imagine the Patriots being in the mix to sign him with just a little bit more than $1 million in cap space (as of this writing). 

The Patriots are unlikely to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2020 with or without Newton, so the best option for New England probably is to just roll with Stidham and find out if he can be a quality NFL starter.

Patriots' Gillette Stadium to host 20 percent of fans in best-case scenario

Patriots' Gillette Stadium to host 20 percent of fans in best-case scenario

Cam Newton could make his New England Patriots debut in front of 13,175 fans.

And that's the best-case scenario.

The Patriots announced Tuesday they expect Gillette Stadium to operate at 20 percent capacity for 2020 home games. That's if fans are allowed to attend games at all, which would need approval from state and local governments.

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If fans attend games, they'll be required to wear face coverings "at all times" inside the stadium and stay at least six feet from other parties, per the team.

To aid in physical distancing, the Patriots will distribute tickets in blocks of 10 seats or less and close off the eight rows closest to the field. The team also announced earlier this month that all ticketing will be digital and that parking at the stadium will be free.

Again, this all assumes fans will even be allowed at NFL stadiums -- and that the 2020 season will start on time -- as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the United States.

By announcing an 80 percent reduction in crowd size, though, the Patriots join several teams in at least acknowledging this season will look very different from years past, even under the best-case scenario.

Why Scott Zolak sees Jarrett Stidham, not Cam Newton, as Patriots' starter

Why Scott Zolak sees Jarrett Stidham, not Cam Newton, as Patriots' starter

The New England Patriots are saying all the right things. Stephon Gilmore recently said he's excited for Cam Newton to "compete for a starting job" at quarterback.

But we know this isn't a competition, right? There's no chance second-year QB Jarrett Stidham starts over a three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL MVP, right?

Scott Zolak believes otherwise. In fact, the former Patriots quarterback said Monday on 98.5 The Sports Hub's "Zolak & Bertrand" he envisions Stidham, not Newton, as New England's Week 1 starter based on conversations he's had with Patriots players and those close to the team.

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"I believe Stidham will be starting QB from the people I talk to and people that I trust: the players, people tied to the team, team captains," Zolak said, as seen in the video above. "The way they speak of Jarrett Stidham and the work he has put in."

Zolak also related that Stidham has been working out regularly but simply has been less public about it than Newton, who has posted several videos of his workouts to Instagram since joining New England.

"A lot of people thought Stidham was on a two-week vacation on a wedding tour down in Texas," Zolak said. "He did go to a wedding and spent time with family -- and he worked out every day with pro-caliber receivers. That's what I was told."

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Physical conditioning aside, Zolak believes Newton faces an immense uphill battle in learning the Patriots' offense during an unprecedented offseason in which players and coaches haven't been able to meet in person. In that sense, Zolak thinks Stidham has the upper hand after a year working under head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

"I just don’t know if Cam Newton is gonna do this in 35 days and be ready to go unless it's some completely different offense that's going to run at 40% efficiency," Zolak said.

Of course, the Patriots signed Newton for a reason, and our Tom E. Curran recently reported New England is confident the 31-year-old QB will master the playbook. Curran has also indicated Newton is committed to the Patriots and wouldn't bail on the team if he wasn't named the starter out of the gate.

At the very least, though, it sounds like the starting QB job won't be handed to Newton. He'll have to earn it.