Where did THAT come from?
Sunday night was surprisingly eventful for the New England Patriots. Within a span of less than 20 minutes, it was reported that the NFL had docked the Patriots a 2021 third-round draft pick and fined it $1.1 million for illegally videotaping the Bengals sideline and — seemingly out of the blue — that New England had signed free-agent quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year deal.
The loss of a third-round pick in next year’s draft could end up proving costly for New England. After all, the presumed starting quarterback prior to Sunday’s signing of Newton was Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick out of Auburn. Less than a week ago, one league insider was speculating that Stidham would start all 16 games for the Patriots in 2020. But Newton — another Auburn QB and former NFL MVP — has upended that assumption. In the near term, Newton’s addition could improve the Patriots Super Bowl chances: At least one sports book moved the Patriots from a 3.9 percent shot to hoist the Lombardi trophy to 5.3 percent after the signing was reported.
Still, signing Cam isn’t without risk. Newton presumably comes with a high chance of future injury, making the prospect of future production uncertain. He’s had a series of surgeries over the past few years, the most recent of which was an operation on his foot in December for a Lisfranc injury. The injury uncertainty, coupled with reports that teams were unable to work him out because of COVID-19, may explain why New England was able to sign him to a league minimum contract. But putting injury risk aside, if we assume Cam is healthy enough to start, there is decent evidence that he can be a productive passer for the Patriots…..
image…Cam Newton…Jacob Kupferman/Getty