The New England Patriots feed off of bulletin board material as well as any team in the NFL, and their new quarterback has plenty of that material to use as motivation entering the 2020 season.
Cam Newton agreed to a one-year contract with the Patriots in free agency in late June. Despite being a former MVP and one of the top 12 to 15 quarterbacks in football when healthy, Newton had to wait a lot longer to find a new team than many people anticipated. He was available for several months as a free agent and the entire league decided to go in a different direction until the Patriots came calling.
The 31-year-old QB signed for a base salary just above $1 million. He'll be one of the lowest-paid starting quarterbacks in the league if he wins the job entering Week 1.
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So, when you combine what happened in the offseason with the disappointing end to his Carolina Panthers career last season, it's pretty easy to see why Newton's motivation is on a level higher than most of his peers.
But will that motivation translate to on-field success in the fall?
"I think it will, simply for the fact that we've seen it before," former NFL player and Rhode Island native Will Blackmon told our Tom E. Curran on the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast. "He (left) Florida and had to go to a different school, and then he goes to Auburn and has one of the best college football seasons ever there. Winning a title, winning the Heisman and putting up insane numbers.
"Then he comes to the NFL and dealt with some stuff and eventually goes and wins the MVP. He's still in Carolina and dealing with so much adversity with his injuries. People keep showing that play where he didn't want to go after the fumble. And then Kyle Allen comes through and it's his team, and then his coach gets fired. So much has gone on where he's so used to being the guy -- he's always been the guy, he's always been No. 1. He wears No. 1! It was interesting. When he signed the contract, everyone went nuts (complaining about the contract). ... For the simple fact that he went and signed that contract says everything. He signed that contract because it's not about the money for him."
There's a lot at stake for Newton heading into the new season.
A strong year with the Patriots likely would give him an opportunity to cash with a huge contract in free agency next offseason. The Patriots also should again be an AFC contender in 2020, so Newton figures to have a chance at a deep playoff run if he's healthy and playing at a high level.
Blackmon is right -- Newton has faced plenty of adversity throughout his football career, both in college and the pros. Newton has responded positively just about every time, and if he's able to do the same with the Patriots, bringing him to Foxboro could end up being one of Bill Belichick's best moves in a while.