For much of the offseason following Tom Brady's departure from a franchise he'd spent 20 years with, the Patriots' replacement was poised to be either the unproven Jarrett Stidham or journeyman Brian Hoyer.
But on Sunday, New England signed former MVP Cam Newton to a one-year contract to take the reigns from a six-time Super Bowl champion. Newton is the presumed starter given his competition for the job, but are we sure to find Newton under center for the Pats when Week 1 comes around?
Former Redskins general manager and NBC Sports Washington analyst Charley Casserly doesn't think their starting quarterback is set in stone quite yet.
"I think [Newton] is in the mix is what [the plan] is," Casserly said on the Sports Junkies Monday. "I know they like Stidham [who] played well in preseason last year, ahead of Garoppolo at the same point in time from what I could see and I think they see it too, but he's still an unknown.
"[Newton is] coming in without a spring, maybe we have two preseason games, so you gotta feel that Stidham and Hoyer will be ahead of him," he said. "But Belichick will play the best player. So who starts may not be as important as who finishes during the course of the year."
It's been almost five years since Newton took the NFL by storm and won the MVP to go along with a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance for the Panthers. A myriad of injuries, especially to his shoulder, took him from one of the best players in the league to a free agent signing a one-year deal in late June.
The 31-year-old only played in two games for Carolina last year, so in his last full season as a starter in 2018, Newton threw for 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions with 488 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
It's hard to imagine Newton not starting over a quarterback who threw four passes last season, one of which was a pick-six, but between the injury concerns and the challenges of learning a new system virtually and in a tight window before training camp, you can start to see his uphill battle toward starting in Week 1.
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