Patriots

Patriots made the smart move by not drafting competition for Jarrett Stidham

Patriots made the smart move by not drafting competition for Jarrett Stidham

So the Patriots are basically going to leave Jarrett Stidham alone? Is that it? Sink or swim with a fourth-rounder?

That’s the plan.

Good. Slow clap. That’s the right move. For a whole lot of reasons, the main one being there wasn’t a Jacob, Justin, Jordan, Jake, Jalen or James in this draft who is a layup to be better than Jarrett. There was a Joe. But the Patriots had no shot at him.  

Unfortunately, I’m sensing frustration in the region.

All that foreplay. All the seductive talk of “premium picks” potentially being spent, the enticing predictions of first-round chaos being unleashed as the Patriots dove boldly into the post-Brady era by going all-in on some would-be quarterback successor.

Didn’t happen Thursday night. Didn’t happen Friday night. Didn’t even happen on a sparkling Saturday afternoon when it seemed almost certain the Patriots would draft a body.

I’ll say it again. Good.

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Because at this time last year, the skinny on Stidham was that he regressed in his last year at Auburn because of the scheme and lack of talent around him.

The Patriots got a quarterback with as much arm talent as anyone in the draft, a kid who would have been a first-rounder if he came out in 2018. He was a depressed asset and the Patriots may have gotten a steal. That’s what we were all saying a year ago. Don’t deny it.

What exactly did he do wrong between last April and this April that would make anyone think it was a good idea to waste a pick on a quarterback who wasn’t as good as Stidham is right now? Who probably won’t be as good as Stidham in three years time? Stidham had a good rookie offseason. He had a training camp in which he made obvious progress. He had a very nice preseason. He impressed his veteran teammates all year long in practice.

He didn’t get worse in the last two months. But the annual force-feeding of quarterback propaganda struck again. And by the middle of the month – as always seems to happen - the Patriots become a trendy team to mention as coveting Baker or Johnny or Tua.

It didn’t make any sense at all. Not just because Stidham was better, but because the Patriots are not currently in a position to be throwing away picks on “maybes” when they have better than a “maybe” already in the house.

The Patriots have a guy who – at the very least – appears to be someone who can keep his hands on the wheel at 10-and-2 and drive the offense at 55. Now, with two tight ends added, a first-round pick entering his second year, a new fullback, an offensive line that will hopefully stay healthy and an offensive coordinator who is adept at developing quarterback talent, you give him the year.

If, by the end of 2020, he’s shown that he’s smart enough to not throw the ball into the clouds like a javelin when he’s under pressure, understands that taking a thunderous hit to gain an extra 22 inches in the second quarter is a bad idea and doesn’t take nonsense sacks when the team’s in scoring position, then he gets another year.

All of those things are bound to happen at some point. But if they aren’t happening as often in December as they are in September then that’s great. Because you can win with a quarterback like that provided he’s got the athletic ability to play the spot, and Stidham most certainly does.

Win Super Bowls? We should probably relax on that measure for a few seasons. Win enough to get his team into the playoffs? We might have to settle down on that as well. This is a rebuild. And the Patriots didn’t order up the offensive material to begin that rebuild in earnest yet. They were a slow team on offense coming out of 2019. They are going to be a slow team on offense going into 2020.

They spent their draft collateral on clear needs at safety, linebacker, edge defender and tight end. They did nothing at all at wideout, choosing instead to bring in a kicker, a guard, a tackle, a linebacker and a center late in the draft.

The kicker – Justin Rohrwasser – was taken with their first pick on Saturday, No. 159. He was probably not a highly-coveted player and could have been taken later. Like seventh-round later.

Meanwhile, wide receivers went flying off the board after Rohrwasser: Tyler Johnson, Collin Johnson, Quintez Cephus, John Hightower, Isaiah Coulter, Darnell Mooney, K.J. Osborn, Donovan People-Jones, Isaiah Hodgins, K.J. Hill and several more before the draft ended.

The Patriots didn’t select any receivers in what was said to be an historic crop. They’ve only taken two – N’Keal Harry and Malcolm Mitchell – earlier than the third round in the past seven drafts. Maybe the two players they added on the cheap as free agents this offseason – Damiere Byrd and Marqise Lee – make a contribution. We’ve seen that movie before though and almost without fail, those kinds of free agents have failed here.

Bottom line, aside from the two tight ends, Stidham will be working with the same corps of offensive skill position players that Tom Brady was in 2020. Harry should be better. Mohamed Sanu should be healthier. Julian Edelman will be Julian Edelman. But it’s not set up for Stidham to rip it up.

He’s in the unenviable position of replacing the greatest quarterback ever with an offense that even Brady had a hard time lugging downfield for much of 2019.

But he’s also in the enviable position of knowing he’s getting the shot he deserves.

Cam Newton sets record straight on Patriots contract in Instagram post

Cam Newton sets record straight on Patriots contract in Instagram post

Cam Newton might get paid like a backup NFL quarterback in New England -- and he could care less.

The three-time Pro Bowler and 2015 NFL MVP reportedly signed a meager contract with the Patriots on Sunday that includes a $1.05 million base salary and just $550,000 in guaranteed money.

But in an Instagram post Thursday, Newton insisted he's not concerned about his light paycheck.

"This is not about money for me; It's about respect," Newton wrote in the caption, which included the hashtag #ImBettingItAllOnMe.

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Newton was an elite QB before shoulder and foot injuries derailed his career, forcing him to miss a total of 16 games between 2018 and 2019. Those injuries led the Carolina Panthers to release Newton in March and seemingly scared away 30 other teams that viewed the 31-year-old as damaged goods.

But Newton has a great opportunity to revive his career in New England, where he can help the Patriots continue their success in the post-Tom Brady era if he's able to stay healthy.

By regaining that respect, Newton also can help himself get paid: His contract reportedly doesn't prevent New England from franchise tagging him in 2021, which would vault the QB's salary well north of $20 million.

Newton made more than $121 million during his nine seasons in Carolina, so it appears he was willing to take a bargain deal with the Patriots if it meant showing the NFL he can still bring it. 

Will Patriots go over or under oddsmakers' new season win total with Cam Newton?

Will Patriots go over or under oddsmakers' new season win total with Cam Newton?

Oddsmakers decreased the New England Patriots' win total prop for the 2020 NFL season to a new low just a few weeks ago.

The Patriots were set at 8.5 wins -- a notable difference from the 10 or 10.5 win totals we've been accustomed to seeing over the last 20 years. But this Patriots team is quite different. Six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady left in free agency, along with several important veteran players on defense. 

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The reported addition of Cam Newton has changed the Patriots' outlook, however.

The Patriots reportedly agreed to a one-year contract with Newton that could be worth up to $7.5 million if he hits all the incentives in the deal. Newton struggled with injuries in 2019 and played in only two of the Carolina Panthers' 16 games. He's healthy now, though, and also the favorite to win the Patriots' starting quarterback job over 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham.

Oddsmakers at DraftKings Sportsbook have increased the Patriots' win total to nine. Here are the latest odds for that prop bet:

Over nine wins: -125
Under nine wins: +103

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It should be noted the Patriots' odds of reaching the 2020 NFL playoffs also have improved to -200. Both conferences will have an extra wild card playoff team beginning next season, and nine wins would have been enough to secure the No. 7 seed in the AFC last season.

Newton, if healthy, should give the Patriots above-average (or better) play at the sport's most important position. His dual-threat skill set would bring a dynamic to the Patriots offense that we've rarely seen during Bill Belichick's 20-year run as the team's head coach.

There are plenty of challenges standing in New England's way of winning more than nine games next season. For starters, they have a difficult schedule that includes matchups versus the best teams in the AFC and several of the top contenders in the NFC. The team also had lots of veteran players, including Brady and its two sack leaders from last season (linebackers Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy) leave in the offseason. Adjusting to this kind of roster turnover is a challenge. The offseason as a whole has been difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic forcing all team activities to be held virtually. Neither the Patriots nor any other team have been able to hold on-field workouts.

The Patriots are no doubt a better team with Newton now in the fold, but he'll need to be healthy and play at a high level in 2020 for New England to extend its playoff appearance streak to 12 seasons.