New England did not express much interest in Newton earlier this offseason, when the franchise explored a deal, but Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes that changed when the former MVP lowered his demands (subscription required). A report even surfaced indicating Patriots OC Josh McDaniels was lukewarm on the passer when he interviewed for the Carolina HC job. But Newton is now New England-bound and primed for his second act.
It is unclear what Newton wanted earlier this offseason, but he was not closely connected to many teams. He ended up signing an incentive-laden deal that will max out at just $7.5MM. He was set to earn more than $19MM in the final year of his previous contract with the Panthers. With Newton’s money not yet on the Pats’ payroll, they hold the least amount of cap space in the NFL at less than $1.5MM. They have not made any plans to accommodate Newton’s deal yet, per Howe. Restructures could well occur in the near future.
Bill Belichick called around on Newton prior to the move, with Albert Breer of SI.com noting that ex-Panthers OC Norv Turner received a call. That prompted Turner to predict a few days ago that Newton would end up in New England.
While Newton not starting in Week 1 would be shocking — should he be healthy at that point — Howe notes the Pats did not guarantee him their QB1 gig. Given the organization’s “do your job” mantra, and Newton’s struggles with injuries over the past three years, that is not surprising. Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer represent Newton’s primary competition, and while Howe adds that Stidham’s work in the virtual offseason did not contribute to the Pats signing Newton, it would be difficult to envision a reality that features a healthy Newton not opening the season as New England’s trigger man. The Pats giving Stidham a cozy path to the job would have pointed to the team being comfortable with a transition year, and Breer adds that Belichick had no intention of “punting on this season.”
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