We were told the New England Patriots were confident in Jarrett Stidham as their 2020 starting quarterback.
Some NFL executives apparently weren't buying that.
After Cam Newton reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Patriots on Sunday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler spoke with several league execs and coaches who reacted to the news with "a mix of surprise, validation and intrigue."
According to Fowler, those in the "validation" camp sensed New England was eager to bring in a proven quarterback to replace Tom Brady despite their apparent belief in Stidham.
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"Those who didn't expect this cited Newton's choppy recent play and lengthy injury history and the team's need to develop Stidham as convenient excuses to stay away," Fowler wrote Tuesday.
"Others saw only one team desperate for a viable NFL starter: New England."
"Desperate" is a pretty strong term considering the Patriots avoided taking a quarterback in the 2020 NFL Draft and waited out the free-agent QB market, allowing Andy Dalton to sign with the Dallas Cowboys and letting Newton go unsigned for months.
While many viewed that inactivity as New England handing the offensive reins to the 23-year-old Stidham, some executives reportedly were convinced the Patriots would add someone to compete with Stidham and Brian Hoyer.
As our Tom E. Curran pointed out here, the Patriots aren't kicking Stidham to the curb by signing Newton. The two still will compete for the starting role in 2020, and if Newton wins the job, Stidham gets a second year of development before Newton hits free agency in 2021.
But considering the Patriots haven't even seen Stidham in person this offseason due to the coronavirus pandemic, it's not surprising they added a known commodity in Newton, who (if healthy) can help New England maintain success in the post-Brady era.