Patriots

Wouldn't Patriots just be a pit stop on the Cam Newton revenge tour?

Wouldn't Patriots just be a pit stop on the Cam Newton revenge tour?

Cam Newton is big mad, as we old people say the kids say.

He feels disrespected. In his words, forgotten. Left to die. Defecated on (again, his words ... kind of).

So, perhaps after a defibrillator and a shower, Newton wants to prove everyone who disrespected him wrong.

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Fight the urge to think that's entirely a good thing for you, Patriots fans. Hold off on yelling "revenge tour SZN!" for a bit. If Newton's revenge tour goes according to plan, it's hard to see New England being more than a one-year stop.  

Think about it. The Patriots are right there on the list of teams Newton should want to prove wrong. They didn't offer him a contract until he was available for the minimum. So say he goes off and earns a big payday: Why would he give any sort of discount to a team that only wanted him "minimum plus incentives" much?

And if he revives his career, are the Patriots going to immediately go back to paying huge money to the quarterback position?  

It wasn't long ago that we were assuming Bill Belichick was eager to have a young, cost controlled quarterback. Jarrett Stidham will be that for the next three seasons. If Stidham isn't the guy, they'll draft another guy and he'll be that dirt-cheap, groomable asset.

Make no mistake: The Newton signing was an excellent move. Sure, the Patriots seemed comfortable going with Stidham and Brian Hoyer all offseason, but an MVP became available on the cheap. This not only gave them a potential starter for a season, it made them three-deep at quarterback at a time where the threat of COVID-19 should force all teams to make themselves as deep as possible.

Yet the Newton signing has made it easy to think the organization's future is now built around one of the cheapest veterans on the roster, a guy who twisted in the wind in free agency. I don't get that.

It seems like the projections for Newton with the Patriots have been optimistic: that he'll win the job, unlock a side of Josh McDaniels that's been hindered by slow-ass Tom Brady, etc. My money is spread out over the best and worst options. I could see him having a Pro Bowl year. I could also see him being either unhealthy or not what he was pre-injury, which is why I think there's going to be an actual competition for the starting job.

The contract's too cheap to say this will be a boom or bust, because there's no way it can be a bust. If he can't play or he's hurt, the team paid the minimum for the minimum. No harm, no foul.

Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: Did Pats just become Cam Newton's team? | Listen and subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Now let's go with that "revenge tour" scenario and say Newton dominates.

He won't be fully vindicated until he gets paid like the star he'll once again be. If he's one of the best quarterbacks in the league, that's $30 million plus, depending on what happens with the cap. When kicking around potential "if it all goes well" contracts for Newton, our Tom E. Curran made a good point in bringing up Ryan Tannehill, a player with similar service time and an obviously worse career getting four years and $118 million after one great season with a new team.

Does Newton get more than that, and could you really blame him for asking after needing incentives to still earn under $8 million?

As much as it would warm my stupid heart to see the Patriots throw huge money at the next guy after they wouldn't extend an increasingly frustrated Brady, I'm skeptical. After breaking up with their long-term, well-paid quarterback, and with a young quarterback they supposedly like on the roster, it would take a Super Bowl for me to think they'll pay the next guy top dollar before trying it with a young, cheap option.

So enjoy the revenge tour if it happens. Just don't be surprised if that tour takes Newton to another town in 2021.  

NFL Rumors: Details of Lamar Miller's Patriots contract revealed

NFL Rumors: Details of Lamar Miller's Patriots contract revealed

The New England Patriots have signed another former Pro Bowler for pennies on the dollar, it appears.

Running back Lamar Miller officially signed a one-year contract with the Patriots in free agency Thursday, and now we know the reported details of that deal, thanks to ESPN's Field Yates.

Miller will make $1.05 million in base salary in 2020 with $200,000 guaranteed. He has an additional $1.5 million in incentives, per Yates, meaning he can earn up to $2.55 million this season. 

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That's a pretty steep discount for the 29-year-old running back, whose four-year, $26 million contract with the Houston Texans (with $14 million guaranteed) expired this spring.

Miller made the Pro Bowl in 2018 and has two 1,000-rushing-yard seasons under his belt but missed the entire 2019 campaign after tearing his ACL in the preseason.

Miller actually has the same base salary as Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, who took an even bigger pay cut to join New England in free agency. Newton's contract has more incentives, though: The three-time Pro Bowler can earn up to $7.5 million this season.

Starting running back Sony Michel is still recovering from ankle surgery and may not be ready for Week 1, so Miller has the opportunity to revive his career in New England, while the Patriots are hoping to find value in another talented player coming off an injury.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Jeff Benedict details process of writing 'The Dynasty'

Patriots Talk Podcast: Jeff Benedict details process of writing 'The Dynasty'

There’s one sentiment shared by everyone who’s covered the New England Patriots for the entirety of their dynastic run. Gratitude. 

It might not show up in the day-to-day coverage of reporting on the nitty-gritty of where the team is and where it’s headed. It might not seem like it when we probe and analyze the interpersonal relationships and shine a light on where the agitations are. 

But to have had a front-row seat to history for 20 years? To watch a once-failed head coach, an overlooked quarterback and an idealistic and sometimes naïve owner combine to lift the Patriots from NFL afterthought to the most successful team in the history of America’s most beloved sport? Right place, right time for me. 

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I coulda been born in Saint Augustine, Florida, and spent my career covering the Jaguars. I wasn’t. I got to cover the team I loved first. The team I cried over when it lost in the 1976 playoffs to the Oakland Raiders. I can still remember the sense of accomplishment I felt at the 1997 NFL Draft, the first event I covered in person on the Patriots beat. It was all I wanted to do. 

The Patriots drafted Chris Canty in the first round. It’s gotten better since then. 

When you cover the team this long, you develop a sense of “ownership.” A belief you know the story as well as anyone possibly could. It’s probably not healthy. Really, it’s a barrier to learning. But I’ll admit it lurks. So when it was announced that author Jeff Benedict would have a book called, “The Dynasty” coming out in September, there was a flash of, “I already know the story…” combined with a twinge of “Why’s he writing it? What’s he know that I don’t?"

Well, as it turns out – and as I expected from an author of Benedict’s ability – there’s a lot he knows about the Patriots that I didn’t.

I’m more than 200 pages into the 525-page book. Benedict spoke to 250 different people. He got everyone who matters on the record – Bill Belichick, Robert Kraft, Tom Brady, Roger Goodell … the list goes on. I’m learning a lot. 

Benedict, who along with Armen Keteyian wrote the best-selling book, “Tiger Woods,” is a master at digging for details and anecdotes and putting his reader in a fly-on-the-wall position because he’s such a terrific reporter and storyteller. 

”The Dynasty” won’t be released by published Simon and Schuster until September 1. There’s an embargo on the content until then. But I did get to speak with Benedict on “Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast” about the two-year process of writing this book. 

Patriots Talk Podcast: Benedict explains the process behind upcoming book, "The Dynasty" | Listen & subscribe | Watch on YouTube

“To me, we’re talking about the greatest sports dynasty, certainly of this century in America and it’s in the conversation as being the greatest sports dynasty in America ever,” said Benedict. “I did feel a tremendous sense of being overwhelmed, a sense of foreboding because it’s such an epic story. 

“I’m not an insider,” Benedict said. “I know all these guys who have been around this franchise forever. I wasn’t there for any of it. I’ve literally never covered a Patriots game … And here’s an army of men and women who’ve been around the team, so it was sort of this idea of, ‘What can you bring that would actually add value and be different?’ 

“I tried to look at it from the perspective of the one thing I can relate to is, I’m a New Englander to the core. What I do feel is I really understand my audience. And the core audience for this book is people who live in New England and people who have followed this team and are in love with this team.

"It’s not to say I don’t want to write it for people in other parts of the country. I want them to read it too and there’s a great story there even if you’re a Jets fan or a Steelers fan. But the core audience is us who live in New England.”

The start of the book is Kraft-centric. The first 100 pages cover the machinations he went through to purchase the team, keep it in Foxboro and build a stadium, which have been somewhat been taken for granted around here and are laid out in detail by Benedict. I learned a lot.

“I have a wonderful editor,” said Benedict. “My editor gave me the same challenge with this as he did with Tiger Woods and that was, ‘I want the reader to learn something new on every single page of this book.’ So if the book is 500 pages long, that’s at least 500 things you need to find that no one else knew. 

“That’s really hard in the New England market,” Benedict added. “The Patriots are the most beloved team in New England. They’re the kings. They’re covered the most. It’s saturation coverage. So I took the approach that, this is not a book about a person, this is a book about a team, about a franchise.

"I went into it with two central questions that all Patriots fans are interested in. First, how was this dynasty built? How was it made? What distinguishes this team from all of those others is they ran their course in about a decade. And after that, their ship had sailed. This dynasty has doubled the length of any of its predecessors. And the second question is how did they sustain it?”

The book is current. It gets into the departure of Brady, the machinations that led to it and the sentiments of everyone involved. Again, I know the story and what I’ve been told. But nobody told me exactly what was said, where conversations took place and how people reacted. 

Benedict has that in The Dynasty. Which serves as further proof that, in life, you think you know. But often you don’t really know.

Check out the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast Network or on YouTube.