A day after the Patriots defeated the Jets 28-14 in Week 17, Cam Newton called in for his final interview of the 2020 season on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show.”
Newton, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent, was unable to lead New England to a playoff appearance, with the team falling to a 7-9 record after 19 consecutive winning seasons.
The 31-year-old former MVP was asked about his future and the possibility of a return to the Patriots next season in an expansive conversation.
What he had to say about a potential return to New England in 2021.
Newton’s future was discussed at several points during the interview. Though he noted it’s too early to know any of the details, Newton admitted that the speculation would persist anyway.
“I’m in a lose-lose, however you want me to come off, then that’s what it’s going to sound like,” said Newton. “‘Well, is he saying that he’s done playing? Is he saying he doesn’t want to be here?’ All I’m saying is it’s a lot of factors that have to go in that hasn’t happened yet just because we just played.”
Has he talked about his future with Bill Belichick?
“No we haven’t,” Newton replied. “That’s what I’m saying. How could I report something that I haven’t even talked to ‘Dollar’ Bill about?”
Yet when asked how he felt about potentially coming back to play with the Patriots next season, Newton had a one-word response.
Would he accept a backup role?
Newton finished 2020 with just eight passing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. New England finished 27th in the NFL in both points and yards.
Looking to the future, given his subpar season, WEEI hosts asked if Newton would be alright in a backup role next season.
“Honestly, it’s too early to tell, and that’s as honest as I can be,” Newton explained. “Do I think I have starting talent? Absolutely. Do I think a lot of things that I have done were devalued in not the team’s perspective, probably the media’s perspective? Absolutely. Do people care about my feelings? Absolutely not, so it is what it is.
“I understand what professionalism is, I understand it’s heavily scrutinized, and there’s only 32 of us,” he continued. “This is not for the weak-hearted, and I understand that, and I just need some time to myself to really re-evaluate this whole situation.”
Later in the conversation, the topic of potentially taking less money to stay with the Patriots came up, whether it was as a starter or potentially mentoring a younger quarterback.
“I’ll put it like this: You can’t put that ‘I’m all about money’ label on me,” Newton pointed out. “Obviously you guys know what I made this year. So I wasn’t in Forbes. And at the same time, I like at it like this. I know out of 32 guys, I’m not the 32nd position rank in that position. So you have to also understand I’m a competitor first. I think the highest of myself first as any person would and should. I know what my skillset is, I know what my talent is. I understand that if given the opportunity, there is nobody better than me. That’s how I will always feel.
“I have to also feel realistic about the opportunity that is presented as well,” Newton added. “So who knows if it takes being a backup.”
Having said that, the former No. 1 overall pick still rates himself as a starter in comparison to some of his peers.
“For me, when I look at the whole situation, if you’re asking me do I want to be a backup, hell no,” Newton acknowledged. “Because when I look at other teams and I look at other players play, there have been guys that have been getting away with — I feel — murder for years because of subpar play. Do I have the right to say that with the year that I had this year? No, but I’m going to be honest and say it because that’s what I do.”
He identified one positive from the 2020 season.
Despite having a down season both from an individual and team standpoint, Newton still found something he was happy with in 2020.
“I’m always the one to find some type of positive in the process,” said Newton. “My one positive from it all, that was I felt was everything for me was I finished the season healthy. I know all reports going into this year was, ‘Is he healthy? Is he this? Is he that?’ And my body feels like I wanted it to feel, as I hoped it would feel from [my] shoulder, from my foot, and even a stint from the oblique. That’s a success in my book however.
“I understand that we set our intentions on trying to make a deep run in the playoffs, but it didn’t happen this year,” Newton said of the Patriots’ unfulfilled goals. “But I think my personal kind of request was for me to just finish healthy, and I didn’t want to be harboring over an injury as I have been in the last couple of years.”
Looking ahead, Newton explained that his health could be a boost in his offseason efforts to improve.
“I have a lot of ammunition in the barrel to get better this offseason, and that’s what I’m going to focus on doing,” said Newton. “I have my health. This is probably the first healthy offseason I’ve had in five, six years, and I’m going to make the most of it. I have to obviously work on my mechanics. I have to obviously throw the football sooner rather than the latter part of last year.”
He wants to figure out free agency earlier than he did in 2020.
The Patriots didn’t sign Newton officially until June prior to the 2020 season, leaving a shorter time for him to acclimate in already challenging conditions posed by COVID-19.
As he surveys another offseason in free agency, Newton intends to avoid a repeat of 2020 in terms of timing.
“That definitely is going to go into consideration,” Newton said of offseason schedule. “I’m not going to wait in the latter part of another season when I have the opportunity to do something or sign with someone. And I think I put myself at a disadvantage in that. But yeah you just live and learn.”
He’s excited to reunite with his children.
Since traveling to New England to play the season with the Patriots, Newton hasn’t been able to spend time with his children.
Asked how quickly he would leave Boston with the season over, he offered some insight into his parenting.
“Immediately, I haven’t seen my kids in three months,” said Newton. “I’m the dad who takes their kid to daycare. I’m the dad that is the screamer in the bleachers. I’m the dad that looks forward to giving their kids baths at night, reading them bedtime stories, making the wack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and forcing them to eat it because daddy can’t cook, and waiting on Postmates to pull up. I’m the dad that really takes serious a football session and am tackling them as hard as I can but also kissing their little boo-boos after they get scraped by a tackle by dad.
“I’m a hands-on dad, and when you negate that from a man, it weakens him to say the least,” Newton explained, adding that he’s “just looking so forward to me playing hide-and-seek when I see my kids, you have no idea.”
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