Patriots

Would Patriots be good fit for Cam Newton? Rodney Harrison gives interesting take

Would Patriots be good fit for Cam Newton? Rodney Harrison gives interesting take

May is almost over and Cam Newton remains an NFL free agent.

It's really hard to believe given how great of a career Newton has had over the last nine years. We're talking about the 2015 NFL MVP and a quarterback who's led his team to a Super Bowl.

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Of course, Newton's health likely is a concern for teams still in need of a quarterback, and given the social distancing guidelines involved with the COVID-19 pandemic, it's not easy to evaluate a player and put him through a workout.

Newton missed the last 14 games of the 2019 season due to injury, and he's taken a lot of hits in the open field for a 31-year-old quarterback.

Why hasn't Newton signed yet? Former New England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison joined the "Rich Eisen Show" earlier this week and gave his take on the situation.

"Because nobody knows, Rich, nobody knows what's going on with Cam as far as, can you depend on him with his health ... and at this point in time you can't invest a lot of money because he's been so beat up," Harrison said. "I think the best thing for him to do is go into a situation, maybe go become a backup quarterback, learn, get healthy, and then if he gets his opportunity, go out there and shine. But I don't think he's going to be a starting quarterback this year in the National Football League."

One potential fit for Newton that experts and fans have debated quite a bit since the veteran quarterback's release from the Panthers in March is the Patriots. Believe it or not, the Patriots remain the betting favorites to land Newton.

The Pats are entering a transition year at quarterback following Tom Brady's departure in free agency. New England's likely starter is 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham, and while he showed plenty of promise in preseason games, training camp and various practices as a rookie, you could definitely argue Newton would give the Patriots a better chance of winning in 2020.

What does Harrison think about the Patriots as a potential spot for Newton?

"I know a lot of people out there are saying the Patriots, but I thought it would be a great situation where he could have came in at a reduced salary,” Harrison said. “He could have came in and really learned a lot about just technique and just the intricacies of just being on a really great football team with great guidance as far as the head coach and offensive coordinator.

"I thought that would have been a really, really ideal situation for him. He could have came in, competed. Could have helped the young guy, the young guy could have helped to push him. I thought it would have been a perfect situation. I’m just a little disappointed that the Patriots weren’t a little bit more aggressive, you know, just recruiting Cam."

The Patriots have limited salary cap space -- only about $1.3 million, as of this writing, per OverTheCap -- so signing Newton is tough for them right now purely from a financial perspective.

It's also possible the Patriots just aren't interested in Newton. If the Patriots want to learn what kind of player Stidham can become, he needs to get a lot more reps in 2020 than he did last season.

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

Cam Newton is wasting no time getting to know his New England Patriots wide receivers.

The new Patriots quarterback, who officially signed a one-contract with the team Wednesday, linked up with wideout Mohamed Sanu last week for a few throwing sessions in Los Angeles.

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This Wednesday, it was N'Keal Harry's turn to catch passes from Newton, according to Boston.com, which obtained video of the duo's L.A. workout from EBA Sports.

The video shows Newton meeting Harry for the first time as a member of the Patriots before throwing the second-year receiver a handful of passes.

Newton and Harry worked out together for about two hours and were later joined by Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., per Boston.com.

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Harry has been working hard this offseason to improve his game after a disappointing rookie campaign. The Patriots' 2019 first-round pick appeared in just seven games last season due to a nagging ankle injury, catching 12 passes on 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

It's encouraging to see the 22-year-old on the practice field with Newton, who's aiming to bounce back from his own foot injury that limited him to two games in 2019.

Newton will have to beat out second-year QB Jarrett Stidham for the starting job, and it appears he's eager to get started while developing chemistry with his new pass-catchers.

Deion Branch 'excited' to see what Patriots offense looks like with Cam Newton

Deion Branch 'excited' to see what Patriots offense looks like with Cam Newton

The New England Patriots offense could look very different during the 2020 NFL season, and not just because Tom Brady is no longer the team's starting quarterback.

Not only will the Patriots enter a season with a new starting QB for the first time since 2001, the actual scheme and identity of the offense might take on a totally new form. The reason for that is the arrival of veteran quarterback Cam Newton, who the Patriots recently signed to a one-year contract reportedly worth up to $7.5 million.

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Newton is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the league has ever seen. His passing ability is impressive, no doubt, but he really puts pressure on opposing defenses with his legs. The 31-year-old veteran has ran for 500-plus yards in six of his nine pro seasons, and his 58 career rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback since he entered the league in 2011.

Former Patriots wide receiver and Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch is pretty excited about the Newton addition for New England, and he can't wait to see how the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, devises a game plan to maximize Newton's unique skill set.

“I expect big things,” Branch said in a recent interview on CBS Sports Radio's "The Zach Gelb Show". “I’m just excited to see what Josh McDaniels can come up with, with this type of athlete. He’s had, with Tom, the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. That’s the easy part. But the Patriots have never had a dual-threat quarterback such as Cam Newton at the helm. So I'm excited to see -- Josh is a brilliant offensive coordinator. This is going to be exciting to see what these guys can create, and what they can come up with. If they can make this work — just to see what it looks like. I'm excited for him. I know Cam is excited for another opportunity."

Next Pats Podcast: How can Pats maximize Harry's skills? | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

McDaniels has done a tremendous job in New England. The Patriots' ability to change their identity and offensive gameplan based on the upcoming week's opponent is quite impressive. They've been able to win games in a lot of different ways, whether that means throwing the ball 40 times or bullying defenses with a power running game.

Newton brings a skill set we've rarely seen in the Patriots offense. His ability to throw the ball with success and also take off into the open field like a running back gives McDaniels a ton of different plays and packages to run that the team hasn't used much in recent years.

It remains to be seen if Newton will be able to bounce back from last season's injury woes and rediscover the form that made him a top 15 QB on a consistent basis, but watching him in the Patriots offense will certainly be among the most compelling storylines of the 2020 season.