The leading candidate to start at quarterback for the New England Patriots is Cam Newton, and former Pats linebacker Willie McGinest expects the 2015 NFL MVP to win the job in training camp.
There are four quarterbacks on the Patriots depth chart -- Newton, Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Brian Lewerke -- and head coach Bill Belichick told reporters last week that "everyone will get a chance to prove themselves."
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McGinest, who's now an analyst for NFL Network, recently gave his take on the Patriots' quarterback situation.
“Well, they say it’s a competition, but if you are asking my opinion, I expect to see Cam Newton start at the quarterback position," McGinest said Wednesday on WEEI radio show "Dale & Keefe". "If he’s healthy, he’s the guy.”
One thing Belichick values tremendously is versatility, and McGinest pointed out that Newton brings plenty of versatility to whichever offense he's playing in.
"If you talk to a lot of offensive coordinators and you say, hey, if you had a Cam Newton, what does that bring to your offense? The first thing they'll say is versatility," McGinest explained. "A guy you can do multiple things with within the offense. Cam has beat a lot of people with his legs, and he's had his share of injuries, but he's strong, he's big, he's physical, he can move the pocket. So, now you can incorporate those RPOs, those zone runs, those spread passes. It keeps defenses off-balance. And he can still throw the ball down the field from the pocket and be accurate.
"And he has something to prove. Here's a guy who's pretty much at the bottom of what quarterbacks are making this year and he felt like he was done wrong, so you're getting a guy with a chip on his shoulder that if he's 100 percent healthy, he brings so much to an offense. Josh McDaniels is going to have a field day with designing plays around Newton and the rest of the personnel."
Newton played in just two games last season due to injuries, and a shoulder ailment bothered him for a large portion of the 2018 campaign. If Newton is able to stay healthy and be on the field for a full season, there's no reason why he can't rediscover the form that made him a top 12 to 15 quarterback in the league for much of his career.
And as McGinest pointed out, Newton is highly motivated to play at a high level. You can bet he wants to show that teams passing on him in free agency was a mistake, while also setting himself up for another huge payday next offseason.