Cam Newton’s presence could put Jarrett Stidham on a Jimmy Garoppolo timetable

Cam Newton’s presence could put Jarrett Stidham on a Jimmy Garoppolo timetable

Jimmy Garoppolo was a second-round pick in 2014. He waited two full seasons before getting a chance to start for the Patriots in the 2016 opener.

He won that game on the road in Arizona and was playing lights out in the first 20 minutes of the next game against Miami before getting broken like a toy by Kiko Alonso.

The rest of the story is long, circuitous and ends with him being very rich and starting in a Super Bowl last February for another team entirely. Let’s not get into that here.

But let’s get into the arc of Garoppolo’s time with the Patriots because Jarrett Stidham – a fourth-round pick last year – suddenly finds himself in a spot similar to Garoppolo’s: competing with a former MVP and staring at the possibility of another year waiting his turn.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Because we’ve spent the past two months since the draft believing the Patriots were riding with the Stidham-Brian Hoyer combo, the signing of Newton has been viewed by some as a vote of no-confidence in Stidham. In reality, this move has less to do with the Pats being cool on Stidham and more to do with putting a few chips on the very significant upside of Newton.

And that’s really not a bad thing. Not for Newton. Not for the Patriots. And not for Stidham.

If Cam Newton comes in and performs like he did when he was last healthy at the start of the 2018 season, there’s no shame for Stidham in getting beaten out by a bigger, stronger, faster, more experienced player.

Losing out to a former No. 1 overall pick who, in 2015, had one of the most dominant seasons a quarterback’s ever had? It’s not really a fair fight.  

And where does that leave Stidham? Same place Garoppolo was in his second season – watching a better and more seasoned player play.

Play it out a little more. If Newton comes in and performs as one of the top-10 quarterbacks in the league this season on his one-year deal, he’ll be back at the table as a free agent in 2021 expecting a deal that pays him at least the going rate. That would start at $25M per.

If the Patriots are committed to staying out of the high-priced quarterback business, they can push away from the table and then Stidham – with another year of learning – can be in the same spot Garoppolo was in 2016. Entering his third season and more than ready for his turn. He will then have two years left on his rookie deal to make his case.

Garoppolo, of course, was just temping for Brady in 2016. And Brady went on to win a Super Bowl in 2016 and have an MVP season in 2017, so there was no way for Garoppolo to dislodge him.  

Stidham will be in an actual competition this summer (theoretically) and – unless Newton stuns everyone, stays healthy and plays like Brady in 2016 and 2017 – Stidham will have a chance to win the job.

Signing Newton buys the Patriots time with Stidham. And because there’s been no offseason for Stidham to truly make the second-year leap that most players do, the time is probably going to benefit him the same way it benefited Garoppolo.

What if Stidham beats out Newton for the job? Or Newton gets hurt? Or asks for his release which, if he’s playing for short money and feels he’s going to wind up backing up Stidham, he may well do.

Then the Patriots are back where they were before Sunday night – with a young quarterback who’s going to be learning on the job and a veteran quarterback ready as the safety net.

As much as we all got our brains around the idea of Stidham as the starter if and when this season begins, if he’s watching when the opener comes around, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It wasn’t for Jimmy G.

NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

NFL Rumors: Patriots, RB Lamar Miller agree to one-year contract

The New England Patriots added a veteran running back to their roster on Monday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, ex-Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans RB Lamar Miller reached an agreement with the Patriots on a one-year contract.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Miller, 29, missed the entire 2019 campaign after suffering a torn ACL in the preseason. In 2018 with Houston, he rushed for 973 yards and five touchdowns in 14 games and was named to the Pro Bowl.

Miller's most productive NFL season came in 2014 with Miami when he tallied 1,099 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

With Miller now in the fold, he joins a Patriots running back depth chart that also consists of Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Damien Harris. Michel underwent foot surgery in May and was placed on the PUP list earlier this month.

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Fantasy football 2020: Projections for Tom Brady, other Bucs players

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski leaving the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers didn't just send a shockwave through the NFL. It also altered the fantasy football landscape.

The fantasy values of both the Patriots and Bucs' skill players will be much different in 2020 following Brady and Gronk's departure from Foxboro. We've gone over what to expect from the go-to guys in New England's offense, so now it's time to go over Tampa's weapons.

The obvious benefactors -- at least one would think -- of Brady becoming a Buc are his primary wide receivers Chris Godwin and Mike Evans. But will their numbers, along with Brady's, see a significant increase as expected, or should we pump the brakes on the hype?

And then there are the running back and tight end positions. Can Tampa's intriguing rookie running back take over the starting job? What can we really expect out of Gronk after a year off from football?

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Here are our projections for the Bucs' key offensive players with Brady and Gronk in the fold:

Tom Brady, QB
Projected Stats
: 4,300 yards, 29 TD, 9 INT
Projected Draft Round: 5-7

Brady is set up to be a really solid starting quarterback in fantasy football this year. That being said, those who expect Brady to put up elite numbers and draft him any higher than Round 5 are just asking to be disappointed. There are going to be some growing pains in Bruce Arians' offense. Sure, having his old pal Gronk around as a security blanket will help, but it's going to take time for the six-time Super Bowl champ to get comfortable down in Florida. There's little doubt Brady's numbers will be better in nearly every category now that he has some real weapons at his disposal, just make sure you don't reach when plenty of other QBs will do just fine in the middle rounds.

Ronald Jones II, RB
Projected Stats
: 650 yards, 4 TD
Projected Draft Round: 7-9

Jones was an OK flex play at points last season, but overall he simply hasn't been the running back Tampa Bay has hoped for these last few seasons. That led to the Bucs selecting Vanderbilt product Ke'Shawn Vaughn on Day 2 of this year's NFL Draft. Jones is the No. 1 guy heading into camp, though it doesn't look like that will be the case throughout the 2020 campaign. Wait until the mid-to-late rounds to take Jones, and maybe even consider passing entirely to take Vaughn if you're so inclined to take a Bucs RB.

Ke'Shawn Vaughn, RB
Projected Stats
: 550 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

Speaking of Vaughn, he could be a major difference-maker for the Bucs in Brady's offense this season. He rushed for 1,028 yards and nine touchdowns for Vandy last season and was pretty effective through the air too, tallying 270 yards and a TD. It's always tough to count on a rookie, but it's worth the risk and the ceiling definitely seems to be higher with Vaughn than it is for Jones. The addition of McCoy, however, makes Vaughn's fantasy outlook a bit murky.

LeSean McCoy, RB
Projected Stats
: 400 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

It's impossible to now as of right now how the Bucs backfield is going to shape up in 2020. Although McCoy is a shell of what he once was, Bruce Arians definitely should find some sort of role for the 32-year-old veteran. The obvious question is whether that role will be more significant than Jones' or Vaughn's. If you're really that compelled to draft a Bucs running back, something I'd avoid entirely, it's a total toss-up and a matter of personal preference.

Mike Evans, WR
Projected Stats
: 75 receptions, 1,250 yards, 7 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

There's no question the Brady-to-Evans connection is going to excite people heading into the new season. However, I'm somewhat skeptical about how their playing styles will mesh. Brady isn't one to take many risks, and Evans made a living out of catching Jameis Winston's ridiculous jump-balls downfield. It really is impossible to know how that'll work itself out, but nonetheless we're believers in Evans' elite talent and project him as a solid WR1 again in 2020.

Chris Godwin, WR
Projected Stats
: 90 receptions, 1,350 yards, 10 TD
Projected Draft Round: 2-3

Godwin was the breakout star of the 2019 fantasy football season as he put up absolutely ridiculous numbers with Jameis Winston under center. Now, the question is whether he can do it again with Brady. That may seem like a silly question, but again we have no clue what to expect from Brady in Arians' offense and how it will differ from what Godwin thrived in a year ago. Regardless, he definitely should be one of the first WRs off the board.

Rob Gronkowski, TE
Projected Stats
: 50 receptions, 700 yards, 5 TD
Projected Draft Round: 6-8

How do you make stat projections for a guy who took a year off from football to party in Miami and join the WWE? With injury concerns to boot, that makes drafting Gronk in fantasy football an extremely risky move. Obviously, with that high risk could come high reward as Tampa's offense has the potential to be one of the best in the entire NFL and Brady is going to look to Gronk early and often as a security blanket. Draft the former Pats tight end in the middle rounds, long after guys like Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Zach Ertz are off the board.

O.J. Howard, TE
Projected Stats: 25 receptions, 450 yards, 3 TD
Projected Draft Round: 8-10

The Bucs are going to run two-tight end sets in 2020, so don't think that Gronk's presence will limit Howard's production. In fact, it could even help it. Howard was a huge fantasy disappointment in 2019 and is out to prove he isn't a bust this year. There's also still a chance he gets traded to a TE-needy team and benefits from a change of scenery. Either way, you could do worse than Howard in the later rounds of your draft.