According to multiple New England Patriots insiders, Cam Newton is a virtual lock to start Week 1 when the team is set to take on the Miami Dolphins.
Jarrett Stidham was once believed to be in this position, but everything changed once the Patriots signed former 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton to a one-year deal. Suddenly, Stidham’s name is barely being mentioned, and the Patriots seemingly rolled out the red carpet for Newton–even though he was only given a very budget-friendly, incentive-laden deal.
Still, it’s hard to believe the Patriots would do all of this for a player of Newton’s character if they didn’t expect him to start from Day 1.
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Patriots Insiders Believe Cam Newton is a Lock to Start Week 1
Several Patriots insiders are of the same opinion. Former NFL linebacker Emmanuel Acho appeared on Fox Sports 1’s Speak For Yourself, and he boldly stated his reasoning.
Cam is going to start Week 1. Now, going into training camp, on the depth chart Cam might not be the No. 1 guy on the depth chart starting training camp. Bill Belichick’s mantra: tear you down before building you up and hopefully you do eventually get built up. Bill Belichick’s whole M.O. is to tell you how good you aren’t so that you continue to play with a chip on your shoulder. But is Cam Newton going to start Week 1? Let’s not act like we haven’t seen Cam and Jarrett compete at similar places before. They both were at Auburn. Cam, 14-0, national title. Stidham, not so much. Stidham, great quarterback. I covered him in college, I liked his game in college. I don’t have anything yet to say in the NFL because there’s inconclusive evidence to rule a decision as to the jury. However, Cam — I’m not even going to say it. I’m tired of saying it. Cam, NFL MVP, is he going to start Week 1? Yes, and to think otherwise is asinine.
You can see the segment here:
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) July 9, 2020
Former Patriots tight end Christian Fauria also doesn’t see much of a realistic scenario where Newton doesn’t start from the beginning of the regular season. On WEEI’s Ordway, Merloni & Fauria, the latter said:
I don’t think it is a competition. The only way it is a competition is if Cam falls flat on his face. In which case, if Cam falls flat on his face, whether it’s because he’s washed, or he just hasn’t recovered from the injury, then I don’t even think he’s going to be here. So, I think it is his job — his job to lose. He is one of those guys who people just look at. He is going to own that room when he walks into it because of who he is, his personality, because of his resume, and I think that’s just a lot for Stidham to overcome.
What About Stidham, Brian Hoyer, and the UDFA Quarterbacks?
Believe it or not, if the insiders are correct, Stidham is still in a good place. He gets to learn behind another MVP-caliber quarterback for another season. Newton’s deal is only for one year, and if all goes as planned, he’s going to be looking to cash in for 2021. The Patriots may not be keen on paying him his market value, and that could mean it’s time to turn the ball over to Stidham–or to at least make a long-term decision on his future.
In any case, Stidham should know where he stands at the end of this season, and he still has all of 2020 to hone his skills.
Hoyer was signed mostly as a backup and someone charged with helping Stidham’s development. If Newton takes a firm hold of the starting job, it clears the way for Hoyer to be a second voice for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels through the season.
It’s a bit of a tougher situation for the undrafted free agent quarterbacks, J’Mar Smith, and Brian Lewerke. At one point, it appeared Smith had a great chance to remain on the team as a third quarterback. At this point, he’d have to perform out of his mind at training camp and preseason–assuming there is one–just to make the practice squad. If he’s impressive enough, the Patriots could bring him back in 2021 to compete with Stidham for the starting spot. However, again, he’d have to be lights out before the 2020 regular seasons starts.
As for Lewerke, his chances went from slim to almost none the moment Newton signed the deal.
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