When Cam Newton first became a free agent, many experts couldn't imagine him coming to the New England Patriots. He'd never get along with head coach Bill Belichick, they said.
But Newton is on his way to New England after reportedly signing a one-year, incentive-laden deal with the Patriots on Sunday night. And his new teammates believe the 31-year-old quarterback can thrive in Belichick's system, which is more flexible than often perceived.
Reacting to the Newton news Sunday night on their "Double Coverage" podcast, Patriots defensive backs and twin brothers Devin and Jason McCourty envisioned how they see their new QB fitting with his new club.
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"I always remember Bill saying this every year: ‘Your role will be decided by you,' " Devin said. "I don’t think he will have a role coming in other than just being himself.
"Obviously he has won MVP. He has been to the Super Bowl. With that, he will come with life experience, NFL experience. But I think everyone -- not just in the quarterback room, but everyone on the team -- can benefit from him and I think that comes from him just being who he is."
As for the perception that Newton's outsize personality will rub Belichick the wrong way? Devin believes that's a lazy narrative.
"From the outside looking in, people are always like, ‘This guy' ... We spoke about this weeks ago on the podcast when it first was like Patriots are signing him: Guys come to our team and they are who they are," the Patriots safety said.
"Martellus Bennett has one of the biggest personalities you ever have on a guy and he fit in on our team better than anybody. … I think the big thing for us as veteran guys, guys who are on the team, encourage him, the Adrian Phillips', the Cody (Davis') ... all the new guys that came to just be themselves. That helps our team more than anything."
Newton also has a very different playing style than Tom Brady, who bolted to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason. But Devin is confident that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels can help the three-time Pro Bowler thrive without asking him to change his game.
"You can’t expect a guy to come being the type of football player he has been without being himself," Devin added. "Offensively, I always leave it up to my man Josh. I think if you watch Cam Newton throughout his career he has been a guy who can throw the ball in the pocket. He’s a guy who can run around.
"Whether it’s him or Stiddy (Jarrett Stidham) -- because Stiddy has good athleticism too -- I think Josh will figure it out do what is best at the quarterback position like he has done. whether it’s with Jimmy (Garoppolo) in there or Jacoby Brissett. He always finds a way to get the best out of the quarterback position. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out."