Patriots

Deion Branch approves of Cam Newton move, sees 'crazy season' for Patriots QB

Deion Branch approves of Cam Newton move, sees 'crazy season' for Patriots QB

Cam Newton reportedly is joining the New England Patriots on a one-year contract, and the move has been met with positive reviews from many corners of the football world.

Newton's former head coach with the Carolina Panthers, Ron Rivera, said the veteran quarterback is ready to "bust out" with the Patriots. ESPN's Stephen A. Smith "loved" the move and thinks Newton and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will form a productive partnership. Former Patriot and Hall of Fame wide receiver Randy Moss also thinks the team's offense will be really fun to watch if Newton is leading the way.

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Another former players who envisions success for Newton in Foxboro is Deion Branch. The ex-wide receiver played about six-and-a-half seasons with the Patriots after they selected him in the second round of the 2002 NFL Draft. Branch played a key part in the Patriots' Super Bowl XXXVIII and XXXIX victories, and he even won Super Bowl XXXIX MVP.

He's also pretty excited for Newton's arrival in New England.

"I think this guy's going to erupt, man," Branch told TMZ. "I think this is going to be a crazy season for him, and moving forward. You're seeing the things he's doing, what he's posting online. This isn't fake, man. This guy is out here grinding. He's trying to show teams, 'Hey, I know what I can do. Just give me the opportunity.' And I think that's what Bill sat back and said -- OK, I'll give you the opportunity. Now go do your thing."

Branch also said he thinks Newton and the Patriots "will be a great marriage."

Newton still has to win the starting job, and he'll have competition from 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer. But if Newton is healthy and wins the job, he would give the Patriots offense a dual-threat skill set at quarterback rarely seen in the 20 years Belichick has been the head coach. 

Todd McShay's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking Alabama LB

Todd McShay's new 2020 NFL Mock Draft has Patriots taking Alabama LB

Do we know what the state of college and NFL football will be in the spring of 2021? No. Has that stopped the experts from prognosticating? Also no.

Major conferences like the Big Ten and Pac-12 already have pushed their 2020 football seasons to next spring, and it's still unclear whether college football will even happen. It's also unclear if the 2020 NFL season will happen, as a host of players already have opted out due to concerns about COVID-19.

Despite all that, the 2021 NFL mock drafts are already starting to trickle in. And if you're looking for signs of normalcy, here's one: ESPN's Todd McShay has the New England Patriots taking an Alabama defender.

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Here's McShay's explanation for the Patriots taking Crimson Tide inside linebacker Dylan Moses at No. 26 overall:

If there were a QB who made sense at this stage in the draft, the Patriots would probably look there. At this point, there isn't one, as my Nos. 4 and 5 quarterbacks -- Texas A&M's Kellen Mond and Iowa State's Brock Purdy -- are well down the board. But there is a linebacker (two, actually, with LSU's Jabril Cox also available) here who would go a long way toward providing the middle of the defense a QB of its own.

Moses missed last season with a knee injury, but when he's healthy, he is a complete player and game-changer. He brings athleticism, speed, physicality and leadership qualities. Dont'a Hightower, who already opted out of 2020, will be a free agent after the 2021 season, and the 'backer corps already lost Jamie Collins Sr. and Elandon Roberts to the open market.  

Moses won a national championship with Alabama as a freshman in 2017 and was a second-team All-American in 2018 but missed the entire 2019 season due to a knee injury.

He announced his intention to return to Tuscaloosa in 2020 but will be draft-eligible in 2021, and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has a long history of drafting good friend Nick Saban's players, from Hightower (2012) to cornerback Cyrus Jones (2016) to running back Damien Harris (2019) to outside linebacker Anfernee Jennings earlier this year.

New England certainly has a need at the position, too: Collins, Roberts and Kyle Van Noy left in free agency this offseason, while Hightower will hit free agency in 2021.

NFL Rumors: Sony Michel may not be ready for Patriots' season opener

NFL Rumors: Sony Michel may not be ready for Patriots' season opener

The New England Patriots are incredibly deep at running back. So, why are they reportedly bringing in Lamar Miller?

Part of that answer may have to do with Sony Michel, who had foot surgery in May and began training camp on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

According to The Athletic's Jeff Howe, it's "no sure thing" Michel will be healthy for the Patriots' 2020 season opener against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.

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"There’s such an uncertain nature in the recovery from any foot surgery that it can be a challenge to predict a defined timeline," Howe wrote. "But right now, Michel is not on the doorstep."

That's obviously concerning news for the third-year running back, who also missed three games as a rookie due to a knee injury. Michel played in all 16 games last season, though, and led New England with 912 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns on 247 carries.

The Patriots have until Labor Day weekend to activate Michel from the PUP list; if they don't, he'll miss at least the first six weeks of the season.

It appears Miller is their Michel insurance policy as an early-down, workhorse running back to complement James White, Rex Burkhead and Damien Harris after Brandon Bolden opted out of the 2020 season.

Considering Michel's current status, they may have to use that "insurance policy" right off the bat.