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Looks like Cam Newton’s incentives in his contract are tied to playing time more than performance. Does that guarantee he is the starter if he’s healthy? Who do you think plays the most games at quarterback for the Patriots this season? – Kevin J.
It is true that Newton’s incentives are based on how much he plays. ESPN’s Field Yates had the details Thursday morning, and the most notable provision is that he’ll earn a $3.75 million bonus if he’s on the field for 90 percent or more of the snaps and the Patriots make the playoffs.
That seems more than likely provided that he stays healthy. That’s the big “if,’’ of course, given that he played just two games last year before a foot injury ended his season. He also had a significant shoulder injury in 2018. But it’s reasonable to presume that if he remains in good condition, he’ll be the Patriots’ starting quarterback. Perhaps there are some questions about how effective he can be at age 31, but there never should be any questions about his toughness. I like his chances of hitting that incentive.
But to answer the second part of the question, I’ll say it will be Newton, and I’m putting it at 11 games. I’m leaving wiggle room for him to miss a game with injury, or for a scenario in which the Patriots have their playoff positioning clinched and Jarett Stidham gets a start. The other four missed games? They will come when the NFL realizes the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t something it can just plow through, and ends up canceling the September games, instead turning toward a 12-game season and an October start.
To put it another way, I don’t think Newton’s time at quarterback will be abbreviated this season. But the season itself will be.
What does everyone else think? Who will play the most games at quarterback for the Patriots this season? I’ll hear you in the comments.