The AFC East has a unique new problem to deal with now that Cam Newton is headed to the New England Patriots.
... Or does it?
The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback reportedly signed a one-year contract with the Patriots on Sunday, and the assumption is that he'll start over second-year QB Jarrett Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer if he's healthy.
Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis
Yet one AFC East head coach isn't making that assumption, according to ESPN's Dianna Russini.
I spoke over text w/ an AFC East Head Coach on Cam Newton and the Patriots. “I think they are going to keep 3 QBs. Use Cam Newton perhaps as the wild card. I actually don't see him starting Week 1 in the offense...I know one thing for a fact: the #Patriots love Jarrett Stidham"— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) July 1, 2020
Per Russini, either New York Jets coach Adam Gase, Miami Dolphins coach Brian Flores or Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott believes that Stidham, not Newton, will be New England's Week 1 starter based on how much the team loves the 23-year-old QB.
We're speculating, but it's possible Flores is the AFC East head coach in question: He spent 11 years in New England before coming to Miami in 2019 and the Dolphins play New England in Week 1. So, he could have a good idea how the Patriots view Stidham and has added incentive to figure out which QB he should game-plan for.
That head coach makes a fair point, too. As our Tom E. Curran wrote recently, the Patriots adding Newton doesn't necessarily invalidate their belief in Stidham, who should benefit from the extra QB competition and at worst would get another season to develop behind a former NFL MVP.
If Newton is fully recovered from the shoulder and foot injuries that forced him to miss 16 games over the last two seasons, it's hard to imagine him not starting over Stidham in Week 1. In addition to his talent, the 31-year-old brings experience that Stidham hasn't been able to build while away from the Patriots' facility due to the coronavirus pandemic.
But Stidham and Hoyer still could be part of the Patriots' QB picture in addition to Newton, adding a new wrinkle to life in New England post-Tom Brady.