NFL free agency

NFL Rumors: Cam Newton, Patriots had discussions in free agency

NFL Rumors: Cam Newton, Patriots had discussions in free agency

There's been a lot of smoke surrounding Cam Newton and the New England Patriots.

Apparently there was some fire earlier this offseason.

Here's ESPN's Jeremy Fowler in a report Saturday on the free-agent quarterback, who is expected to take his time before signing with a team:

League sources believe Newton and the New England Patriots talked early during his free agency but nothing materialized.

The Patriots seemed like a potential fit for Newton in late March after Tom Brady left New England to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Carolina Panthers released Newton after his injury-riddled 2019 campaign, but the 31-year-old still is a three-time Pro Bowler and former NFL MVP who boasts the experience that presumptive starter Jarrett Stidham lacks.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

According to Fowler, the Patriots had at least some level of interest in signing Newton before seemingly moving on. Newton likely would have had to take a massive pay cut to play in New England after making $16.7 million with the Panthers last season, as the Patriots had very little cap space prior to the 2020 NFL Draft.

Fowler suggested Newton may wait until teams resume "regular activity" amid the coronavirus pandemic before meeting with clubs in person.

If the Patriots already talked to Newton, it's unlikely they'd again consider signing him later this offseason -- although the oddsmakers still beg to differ.

New Patriots LB Brandon Copeland looking to 'leave my mark on everyone'

New Patriots LB Brandon Copeland looking to 'leave my mark on everyone'

While the Patriots free agent departures have made plenty of headlines this offseason - there was a certain quarterback you may remember drew plenty of attention - an interesting free agent addition was introduced to the New England media on Wednesday. 

Linebacker Brandon Copeland, 28, who spent the past two seasons with the New York Jets, said on a conference call that he's all about making a mark on and off the field.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

“I just want to leave my mark on everyone I come into contact with. Whether that’s the player next to me, the player opposite of me on offense, the chef, the janitor, Copeland said. "I’ve been fortunate to personally leave a positive mark anywhere I go. For me, that is the most important thing. When I step on the field, you know you’re going to get my all."

That kind of attitude has helped him rise from an undrafted free agent out of Ivy League Penn to preparing to begin his fifth season in the NFL. Copeland signed a one-year deal with New England to help offset the free-agent linebacker losses of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts. 

He provides the kind of versatility the Patriots are always looking for. After two seasons with the Detroit Lions, he's spent his past two with the Jets and has played linebacker, defensive end and on special teams. His best season was 2018 when, as mostly an edge rusher, he had 14 QB hits and five sacks for New York. 

Listen and subscribe to Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast:

“In terms of my own role here for me, I’m trying to go in and learn as much as possible,” Copeland said. “I’m obviously a linebacker body type but I’ve realized what’s kept me in the league for this long and at the level I’ve played at is the fact that I can do multiple things at a high level.”

That desire to make an impact extends away from the field. Copeland received the NFL Players Association's Alan Page Award this past year for his community service. On his introductory call, he said he's partnered with local organizations to donate $10,000 worth of groceries to Boston-area neighborhoods impacted by the coronavirus crisis. He also made similar $10,000 donations in Baltimore, where he's from, and New Jersey, where he played with the Jets. 

Copeland also teaches a financial literacy course called "Life 101" at Penn's Wharton School of Business and he's extended that instruction lately to NFL players staying at home during the pandemic. His "Beyond the Basics" foundation hosts Christmas shopping for low-income families and a football camp for kids - via Zoom conference call on Saturday this year - that includes providing school supplies and hygiene kits. 

“I really want to make sure that at my funeral, as grim as that may sound, there’s more people talking about the holiday shopping spree we took them on, or the groceries we gave them during a crazy time like this, than a sack that I’m going to have this year or something like that,” Copeland said. “And again, I know that might be weird to say in a forum like this, but that’s just the reality of the situation.”

NFL Rumors: Why Colts signed Philip Rivers over Tom Brady in free agency

NFL Rumors: Why Colts signed Philip Rivers over Tom Brady in free agency

Tom Brady or Philip Rivers?

At first blush, it seems like a no-brainer: Go with the six-time Super Bowl champion.

But the Colts went in the other direction, signing Rivers to a one-year, $25 million contract in free agency despite Brady reportedly having interest in Indianapolis.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

Head coach Frank Reich and the Colts strongly considered the New England Patriots quarterback, too. But here's why they opted for Rivers instead, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport:

"Frank Reich talked about the things he loved about Brady. He thought the tape was phenomenal and obviously, Brady is one of the all-time greats. That goes without saying," Rapoport said.

"They believed that Philip Rivers was a better fit for them in part because of the familiarity that he has with the offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni, with Frank Reich himself (and) with Jason Michael, the tight ends coach -- that was one factor."

Reich spent three years with Rivers on the Chargers as his quarterbacks coach (2013) and offensive coordinator (2014-15). Sirianni worked with the Chargers for five seasons (2013 to 2017), while Michael teamed up with Rivers in San Diego from 2011 to 2013.

Listen and subscribe to Phil Perry's Next Pats Podcast here: 

The other factor? Rivers was willing to play on a one-year deal, while Brady was not, per Rapoport.

"Tom Brady signed a two-year fully guaranteed deal with the Bucs," Rapoport said. "It doesn’t seem like the Colts were willing to go there."

Both Brady and Rivers carry a $25 million cap hit in 2020, but Brady's deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers includes a no-trade clause and locks him in through 2021.

Brady will be 44 years old in 2021, and while Rivers will turn 39 in December, the Colts perhaps felt there was less risk in signing him to a one-year deal.

Brady and Rivers posted similar stats in 2019 -- Brady threw for 4,057 yards with 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while Rivers racked up 4,615 yards with 23 touchdowns and 20 interceptions -- but Brady will be out to prove the Colts picked the wrong QB when(ever) the 2020 season begins.