Cam Newton is reportedly headed to the New England Patriots as the NFL's offseason highlighted by star quarterbacks switching teams continues.
Newton was released by the Carolina Panthers in March following a nine-year tenure with the NFC South franchise. The Panthers selected Newton with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he led the team to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. He also won NFL MVP that season.
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Despite his impressive career and talent, Newton remained on the free agent market for several months before reports surfaced Sunday night of the 31-year-old quarterback and the Patriots reaching an agreement on a one-year, incentive-laden contract.
The Patriots weren't the only team to talk with Newton during the offseason. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Monday that the Cleveland Browns had a "very brief" conversation with the veteran quarterback.
“The truth of the matter is that Cam Newton did not have any other teams," Schefter said on the "Adam Schefter Podcast". "There was nobody that was calling him and lighting up his phone and trying to recruit him for a certain city. There was one other team that did have one conversation with him. It was very brief, it didn’t go very far. But the Cleveland Browns did speak to Cam Newton at one point in time, but those talks never really went anywhere.”
It's a little surprising the Browns would talk to Newton. Cleveland already has a talented young quarterback in Baker Mayfield, who, despite having a disappointing sophomore season in 2019, still has a bright future ahead of him. He's also far younger than Newton and less of an injury risk. Then again, the Browns have made plenty of head-scratching roster decisions since coming back into the league in the 1999 season.
Adding a quarterback with plenty of starting experience and talent is a great move for the Patriots, and one that doesn't carry much risk. If he beats out 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham for the starting job, the Patriots could be a tough out in the AFC. We know Newton should be highly motivated to prove he's still a top-tier player and earn a better contract next offseason. If Stidham beats him out for the starter job, then the Patriots know the second-year quarterback could be their long-term solution at the position.
It was a gamble worth taking for the Patriots given the low cost to bring Newton to Foxboro. There's a good chance several teams will be kicking themselves for not at least talking to Newton during free agency. If healthy, he could be better than 15 or more of the league's starting quarterbacks next season.