Patriots Starting QB Situation Might Be Down to 3 Realistic Options

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All you Cam Newton haters and lovers might want to take note of what ESPN’s Mike Reiss said last week. As the upcoming NFL quarterback carousel events begin to unfold, we will learn more about the New England Patriots’ options at the sport’s most important position.

While names like the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson, the San Francisco 49ers’ Jimmy Garoppolo, and even the Seattle Seahawks’ Russell Wilson are on the tips of tongues throughout the NFL universe, it’s more likely the Patriots won’t get any of those guys.

That could lead to the Patriots turning to a second-tier option like the Las Vegas Raiders’ Marcus Mariota, trading for Jimmy Garoppolo, or re-signing Newton.

Reiss appeared on WEEI’s “Dale & Keefe” this past week, and he said, “I wouldn’t close the door just yet” on Newton’s return to New England.

Here is a touch of what he said during his time with the local Boston sports station.

We don’t know how all of this is going to unfold, and if you do bring him back, maybe it is a Cam and situation. For example, going back to the [Marcus] Mariota possibility, like how would you feel about Mariota and Cam? … I wouldn’t close the door just yet [on Newton returning] until we know what the other dominos are, that are out there and available to them. I think the concern is the functional passing game — how much of that was Cam versus how much was around him? You have to admit they didn’t put him in the best position to succeed with what was around him, but part of that was him, too. He said as much himself, right? That’s maybe the tricky part when you are navigating that one.

There are a few things to unpack there, but Newton has made it clear he wants to return. He said as much in a recent interview with I Am Athlete.

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Two Quarterbacks?

Reiss probably isn’t referring to a dual-quarterback system. More than likely, he means setting up a QB competition in the offseason between Newton and Mariota, which might push Jarrett Stidham out of the picture altogether. Stidham would likely be in the same situation if the Patriots traded for Garoppolo. Heck, he might even be included in a deal to facilitate a reunion with Jimmy G.

In the case of a two QB approach, whoever wins the competition in the offseason would be the starter, and the Patriots would probably have one of the most capable backups in the NFL with a rookie signal-caller playing third-string, gaining experience behind the two veterans.

That might not be the worst idea because it would give New England two viable options at quarterback in 2021, while also planting a seed for growth in the future.

That would free the team up to use its earlier picks in the draft on offensive weapons or a run-stuffing inside linebacker.

Confidence in Cam Newton

Newton will be better in 2021 if for no other reason than increased familiarity with the offense. He didn’t have a ton of time to grasp the offense or a ton of talent to work with once he was on the field.

When you consider the high probability that New England will give him better weapons and that he’ll have the benefit of a full training camp, it’s almost foolish to expect anything besides an improvement.

Newton was exemplary as a leader and locker room presence in 2020. He worked hard to be at his best. Perhaps most importantly, he wants to be in New England. Judging by recent sentiments from guys like Matthew Stafford, that’s not as common as maybe it was five years ago.

Belichick and Co’s best move could be to run it back with an improved and better-supported Newton.

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