New England Patriots: Cam Newton signing is a safety net option

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots re-signing of quarterback Cam Newton is a safety net option for the 2021 NFL season.

Right before the official start of the new NFL year kicked off, the New England Patriots made a surprising move to bring back a familiar face on the offensive side of the ball.

With a free agent market and draft class filled with potential options at quarterback with New England having that position emerging as a big need for a second straight offseason, the Patriots went out and re-signed their starting quarterback from the 2020 season to another one-year deal.

Last week, Cam Newton and New England reached an agreement on a contract for one year and worth up to $14 million for him to return to Foxborough to fight for the starting spot at quarterback when the 2021 NFL campaign begins.

The deal between Newton and the Patriots includes $5 million in base value, according to various reports. That includes a $2 million as a signing bonus, $1.5 million in guaranteed salary and $1.5 million in per-game roster bonuses. The remaining $9 million is locked into incentives for the playoffs, Pro Bowl, All-Pro selection, MVP award and Super Bowl MVP, among other items.

The surprising thing about the agreement between New England and Newton is the fact that the Patriots decided to not dip into free agency to make a bigger signing to change course of who was under center — for now — on the Patriots offensive unit.

In 15 appearances in 2020, Newton completed a career-low 242 passes for an overall total of 2,657 yards passing, which is also a career-worst mark. He also threw for just eight touchdowns through the air while throwing 10 interceptions. On the ground, Newton was able to have some success for New England, recording 137 rush attempts for 592 yards and 12 touchdowns, which is the highest total since his rookie season in 2011 (14 touchdowns).

But even with this signing, regardless of how bad things ended up going during the 2020 season with Newton and the New England offense, the re-signing of the veteran quarterback should still be viewed as a safety net move by Bill Belichick and company.

As mentioned, the free-agent market and the incoming draft class are filled with talented and intriguing quarterbacks that will help various teams throughout the league. New England could still look to those avenues to address the hole and need under center, and it might end up going that route before the start of the 2021 campaign even with Newton under contract.

The most likely option for the Patriots to look at would be the upcoming draft and potentially grabbing a prospect that perhaps falls in the first round or is available in the early portion of the draft. A few names at quarterback that could fall to New England at No. 15 in the draft are the likes of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance or even Alabama’s Mac Jones. There could be another prospect Belichick has his eyes on as well either in the first round or in the early few rounds worth selecting to bring into the quarterback room.

Taking a quarterback in the draft would allow New England to not only get someone it could look at in 2021, but would provide the franchise with a young quarterback to hopefully solidify the position leading the offense into the future.

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If that player isn’t ready right out of the gate in 2021, Newton could resume starting duties for at least the new year in New England. The Patriots have the cap space to make this move acceptable and understandable, but either way, the re-signing of Newton is a safety net option while New England continues to look towards the future at quarterback.