Despite a lackluster 2020 season, it's clear Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots think highly of veteran quarterback Cam Newton.
The Patriots signed the former NFL MVP to a one-year deal this past offseason, giving him another chance to be the team's starting signal-caller. There's a clear backup plan in place, though, as New England made sure to snag Alabama QB Mac Jones in the first round of the NFL Draft.
With the quarterback competition underway, there's plenty of pressure on Newton to hold off Jones and show he has what it takes to lead the Patriots next season. Our Phil Perry explained why Newton is the Pats player with the most to prove in 2021.
"We understand what Cam Newton went through last year. New to the Patriots at the end of June, he didn't have a full offseason to learn the Patriots playbook, to learn his new teammates," Perry said. "And the results, well, they showed. He played in 15 games, the one game he missed was due to COVID. By the time he got back, he felt like he was in a different offense. The terminology was so complex. All of the concepts here in New England have been so embedded in this Patriots playbook for so long that once you get behind, it's really difficult to catch up. Cam Newton found that out the hard way.
"This year, he'll have the opportunity to win the starting job. But can he get on top of the offense well enough to hold off Mac Jones? Can he show that he's accurate enough, that he can throw with enough anticipation that he deserves to be the starter throughout the course of the 2021 season, over the guy who was just taken with the 14th overall pick? Cam Newton, his career in the NFL hanging by a thread, no doubt the most to prove of any player on this Patriots roster."
Newton looked shaky in OTAs and the first couple days of mandatory minicamp this week, though he wrapped things up with a strong showing in Wednesday's session. As he looks to win the starting QB job this summer, the 32-year-old isn't hiding the chip on his shoulder. He's well-aware he has plenty to prove.
The QB competition continues late July when the Patriots return to the field for training camp.