Patriots

Let's hold off on overreactions after Patriots' signing of Cam Newton

Patriots

Well, we should have seen this coming.

Within the first 48 hours of the Patriots buying a scratch ticket to boost an uncertain group at quarterback, we're hearing and seeing things like this:

- Super Bowl back on!

- Well, looks like they didn't have any faith in Stidham!

- Boy, the rest of the NFL is stupid for not signing this guy!

I like the Cam Newton signing a lot, but we're breezing past, ya know, the facts of the situation here.

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It's hard to separate the name from the reality. Newton was a great quarterback the last time he was healthy, so the idea of the Patriots losing one star (Tom Brady) and replacing him with another (Newton) and keeping the train rolling is easier to digest than what actually happened.

And the idea that it means they don't like Stidham? Stop it.

Newton, if you believe the reporting, went the entire offseason without any offers. Why? Because right now he's an uncertainty as he comes off multiple injuries.

And uncertainty is what the Patriots had. They had a second-year quarterback in Stidham who had yet to start an NFL game and a low-ceiling backup in Brian Hoyer. In the most important season ever for quarterback depth (because of COVID), the Patriots were playing with fire.

Signing Newton adds another uncertainty, but increases the odds of having stability at the position. "One of Newton and Stidham will work out" makes more sense than saying "Stidham will just have to work out," right? It's another dart to throw.

 

The rush to declare this means they don't like Stidham is shortsighted. They went the entire spring (free agency and the draft) without adding competition for Stidham. All this time, they've been leaving Newton free to sign with any other team.

And when they signed Newton, they gave him... the league minimum. So ask yourself this: Does that really sound like they think Newton is a savior at the position? Or is he cheap insurance that, if he goes off, could be an All-Pro making just $7.5 million thanks to incentives?

If Newton wins the job, which he should if he's healthy, that still doesn't mean they don't like Stidham. It means they weren't married to Stidham, but we already knew that. They weren't married to Tom Freaking Brady.

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We in New England apparently have some trouble with understanding a quarterback's value. We went from "wait until you see the line of teams willing to kick their quarterback to the curb for Brady!" (nope, he only got two offers) to "Cam Newton to the rescue!" (he was basically free).

I'm not saying Newton won't work. Hopefully he does. I'm saying this is a scratch ticket, which the Patriots obviously feel is the case. Otherwise, they'd have signed him earlier. Newton is a perfect fit for what the Patriots need, which is a cheap player with high upside who can join a quarterback room lacking competition.

So if you feel like it, go ahead and celebrate the signing as though it's the Pedro trade, which brought a 26 year-old Cy Young winner to Boston to save the franchise. But the logistics of it are more like the Red Sox signing John Smoltz and Mark Prior, guys trying to resurrect their careers, to one-year deals for low money.

Big names are enticing and Newton can be a star, but a fixer-upper on a minimum deal is some rocky foundation on which to build declarations about the Patriots' future.