The New England Patriots have been spending free-agent dollars like crazy this week. They’ve added talent and depth on defense while beefing up their offensive line and adding weapons.
The free-agent spending began with re-signing Cam Newton to a one-year deal. Despite the depth and versatility, Bill Belichick has added, Newton’s critics still question or downright declare the 2015 NFL MVP will ruin it all.
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Newton may have had enough, and he took to social media with a message for his haters.
Newton says he is “used to this feeling.” He means essentially being doubted and criticized. In the caption, he says he “embraces this feeling.” Newton also says he is “retaliating, not at you, but because of you,” just before he wrings out his sweat-filled shirt.
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Newton is Being Set Up for Success
In 2020, you could make the argument; Newton was almost set up to fail.
He signed with the Patriots late in the offseason, which gave him limited time to get acquainted with the playbook.
The impact of COVID wrecked training camp for everyone, which only exacerbated Newton’s lack of preparedness. He caught COVID in Week 3, which set him back more.
The Patriots’ offense lacked weapons. The offensive line endured several injuries, and the playcalling was extremely predictable—none of that put Newton or the Patriots’ offense in the best position to shine.
Alas, none of that will be the case in 2021. Newton is heading into his second full season with the same offense, offensive coordinator, and overall philosophy. Hopefully, the NFL will be better prepared to handle any restrictions brought on by the pandemic, and Newton can remain healthy all season.
The O-line is looking as if it has a chance to be the best front in the NFL. How about weapons? For starters, the Patriots have gone from having the worst tight end group in the NFL to having arguably the best, thanks to the additions of Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. Also, the team has signed Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to team with Jakobi Meyers, Julian Edelman, and N’Keal Harry–assuming the last two return.
Quite honestly, it’s hard to imagine Newton finding himself in a more advantageous situation.
Still Two More Pieces That Could Be Added
As improved as things look for the Patriots’ offense, there are still two more pieces that New England could add. The team could use a speed receiver who can take the top off a defense. There are several college prospects with this skill set.
Auburn’s Anthony Schwartz, North Carolina’s Dyami Brown, Georgia’s Tyson Campbell, and Purdue’s Rondale Moore are guys who could fit the bill.
Moore is the most highly touted one in the group, but New England could find their pure speed guy in any of the first five rounds.
Secondly, it would be great to see the Patriots potentially look for an upgrade at punt returner. I know Gunner Olszewski went to the Pro Bowl as a returner in 2020, but some guys in this draft class have the ability to be special return men.
Western Michigan’s D’Wayne Eskridge is one of those prospects.
He didn’t return punts in college, just kick-offs (one for a TD), but there is no questioning his speed and playmaking in the open field. Given the run game and newfound passing weapons the Patriots seem set to have in 2021, a player who can improve field position could make scoring so much easier for New England.
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