Cam Newton’s days in New England might not actually be over.
The Patriots enter the 2021 offseason with just Jarrett Stidham as its only quarterback on the roster. While Newton is a free agent, a couple of NFL insiders believe he may find his way back in New England.
ESPN Patriots insider Mike Reiss believes that the Patriots could bring Newton back in addition to acquiring another quarterback to help resolve the situation.
“We don’t know how all of this is going to unfold, and if you do bring him back, maybe it is a Cam and (another quarterback) situation,” Reiss said on WEEI’s “Dale & Keefe.” “For example, going back to the (Marcus) Mariota possibility, like how would you feel about Mariota and Cam? … I wouldn’t close the door just yet (on Newton returning) until we know what the other dominos are, that are out there and available to them.”
Reiss did bring up though that Newton didn’t have the most impressive season in his one year with the Patriots. Newton threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He did add 592 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, but that wasn’t enough to overcome the poor passing stats as the Patriots went 7-8 in the 15 games he started.
Newton’s struggles became more apparent at the end of the season when he threw for less than 100 yards in three games. He was also benched twice in the Patriots’ last four games.
Reiss said the hurdle in bringing Newton back is determining how much of the Patriots’ poor passing game was on Newton and how much of it was on the receiving corps.
“I think the concern is the functional passing game — how much of that was Cam versus how much was around him? You have to admit they didn’t put him in the best position to succeed with what was around him, but part of that was him, too. He said as much himself, right? That’s maybe the tricky part when you are navigating that one.”
ESPN NFL analyst and former wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson went a step further than Reiss. In a segment making bold predictions for the offseason on “NFL Live,” Johnson’s bold prediction was Newton returning to New England.
“I know a lot of people think that experiment (with Newton) went south, but it doesn’t seem like it quite to me,” Johnson said. “It seems like that they would like to try and find some other playmakers to build around him, possibly, because going out and drafting, getting a young quarterback, that means that you are rebooting your entire team to make a run over the next five, six, seven years. Does (Bill) Belichick really have that long to sit around and wait?
“And if they can get Cam right, there’s no pandemic, there’s a real offseason, a real training camp and not a truncated training camp, I think that’s my bold prediction.”
Johnson does bring up a key point. The Patriots are projected to have at least $58.5 million in cap space this offseason, the fourth-most in the league. Having that much cap space can help the Patriots bolster the offense around Newton or whoever the quarterback is next season.
Either way, Newton is still scheduled to become a free agent on March 17, which is the start of the new league year.
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