Cam Newton

Patriots Name Cam Newton Starting QB

No surprises here, but the Patriots have named Cam Newton their starting quarterback, as Jim McBride of the Boston Globe was first to report. Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald adds that Newton has been voted a team captain (Twitter link).

For a long time after Tom Brady‘s abdication, New England insisted that it was comfortable moving forward with second-year pro Jarrett Stidham as its starting signal-caller. But the team managed to sign Newton for peanuts at the end of June, and as soon as that happened, the 2015 MVP became the odds-on favorite to succeed Brady as the Patriots’ QB1.

Newton has undergone three surgeries since the beginning of the 2017 offseason — two shoulder procedures and a foot operation — and he has missed 16 of the last 18 games. His 2019 season was almost completely wiped out by injury, but he looked like his usual brilliant self through the first 12 weeks of the 2018 campaign, and he ended that year having completed a career-best 67.9% of his throws for 3,395 yards, 24 TDs, and 13 picks. He also showed that he can still make plays with his feet – he tallied 488 rushing yards and four scores on 101 carries.

The most recent reports out of training camp suggested that Newton has not been perfect in practices, but he has been plenty good enough to beat out Stidham — who has been dealing with a hip injury — and Brian Hoyer. And he clearly has ingratiated himself with his new teammates, as evidenced by his captaincy.

Things will feel very different in Foxborough this year without Brady, but between Newton and the Pats’ defense, New England may not be ready to give up its stranglehold on the AFC East just yet.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Notes: QBs, Dugger, Jackson

The Patriots did not guarantee Cam Newton the starting quarterback job after they signed him in late June, but assuming Newton is healthy, it would be shocking to see anyone else under center come Week 1. And the 2015 MVP was a “full go” when practices started earlier this month, so all signs are pointing towards Newton serving as New England’s signal-caller when the season opens in a few weeks.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic details how the “competition” has unfolded over the first few practices. Newton has taken the majority of first-team reps, and while he has not been perfect, his accuracy has been impressive. Jarrett Stidham, the second-year pro who was in line to replace Tom Brady before the Newton acquisition, has been dealing with a hip injury, and he has also struggled with interceptions. The team is not concerned about Stidham’s health, but the turnovers aren’t helping his cause.

Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, has had an up-and-down camp thus far, but considering his experience and familiarity with the Patriots’ offense, Howe says the 34-year-old remains an option to start during the early stages of the season.

Now for more notes out of Foxborough:

  • The Patriots’ top draft choice in 2020, safety Kyle Dugger, may struggle to see early playing time on defense because of how much the condensed offseason is impacting rookies’ abilities to learn the pro game. But as Mike Reiss of ESPN.com writes, the team is eyeing Dugger as its top return specialist. The Lenoir-Rhyne product returned 67 punts for 929 yards and six TDs during his collegiate career.
  • In the same piece linked above, Reiss says Jermaine Eluemunor is in the mix to replace Marcus Cannon — who opted out of the 2020 season — at right tackle. Though Yodny Cajuste appeared to be the favorite for the job, Reiss writes in a separate post that Cajuste, a 2019 third-rounder, appears to be buried on the depth chart.
  • Reiss adds that J.C. Jackson‘s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, has touched base with the Patriots about an extension for his client. As a former UDFA, Jackson is now extension-eligible despite having just two years of service time. He has become a key piece of New England’s secondary and has recorded eight interceptions over his first two professional seasons.
  • Lamar Miller‘s one-year deal with the Pats will feature a $1.05MM base salary with $200K guaranteed, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Miller can earn up to $1.5MM more in achievable incentives.

AFC East Notes: Dolphins, Newton, Bills

With the Dolphins for just 18 games, Minkah Fitzpatrick elaborated on the difference of opinion he had with his second NFL head coach. Brian Flores, per Fitzpatrick, preferred he play a hybrid strong safety/linebacker role and only tried him as a deep safety in one practice last summer. This only came after Fitzpatrick asked Flores to see more time in coverage, Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report notes. After the Dolphins’ Week 1 blowout loss to the Ravens, in which Fitzpatrick was used more in coverage — albeit after limited practice time as a deep safety in Flores’ scheme — the 2018 first-round pick asked for a trade. Flores, Dunne adds, attempted to convince Fitzpatrick he was a key part of Miami’s future. That did not end up working. The Dolphins traded Fitzpatrick to the Steelers, with whom he became an All-Pro, for a first-round pick that turned into tackle Austin Jackson.

We had a difference of opinion in my skill set and what he thought I could do and what I thought I could do,” Fitzpatrick said, via Dunne. “It was going to get tough for me to show something to somebody they were choosing not to see. They didn’t give me the opportunity to show it, even though I had film that showed it. The losing and all that stuff? If I was put in the right position and we’re losing — because of decisions people made upstairs — it is what it is. I can only control how I play. That didn’t affect me at all. It was just a fact that I was being used the wrong way.”

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • Shoulder and foot injuries helped lead Cam Newton out of Charlotte after nine seasons. But the former MVP quarterback said he is “full go” as he begins practices with the Patriots, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston notes. Newton, 31, sounded more cautiously optimistic about staying fully healthy, Perry writes, after being injured for much of the past three seasons. But going into the padded portion of New England’s training camp, Tom Brady‘s likely successor said he feels “amazing.”
  • Since Dolphins players reported to camp, Xavien Howard has landed on both the active/PUP list and the reserve/COVID-19 list. Howard underwent knee surgery in December. While Howard was running at the team’s facility this summer, per ESPN.com’s Cameron Wolfe, he does not figure to see much practice time before Week 1. This makes the standout corner’s availability for the Dolphins’ opener against the Patriots uncertain.
  • Another Dolphin uncertain for Week 1: Preston Williams. The Dolphins are easing their UDFA success story back into action after his ACL tear, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes, adding that Williams’ Week 1 status is in doubt. Williams went down in Week 8 last season, ending a strong start to his career. He caught 32 passes for 428 yards. With Albert Wilson and Allen Hurns opting out, Williams will be critical to Miami’s passing attack.
  • Formerly a key Bills wide receiver, Robert Foster now appears on the verge of being cut or traded. The third-year Bills wideout will need a strong camp to make the team, Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Buffalo drafted Gabriel Davis in Round 4, and the rookie will join the recently re-signed Isaiah McKenzie as a backup to the team’s Stefon DiggsJohn BrownCole Beasley starter trio. After Foster averaged 20 yards per catch as a rookie — in a 27-reception, 541-yard, three-TD season — he caught just three passes in 13 games last season.

AFC East Notes: Bills, Jets, Pats, Camp, Cam

The three AFC East teams located in the northeast will have different protocols for returning to training camp. Bills and Jets players will not have to quarantine for 14 days upon returning to their respective states for camp, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. New York is working with New Jersey and Connecticut on a COVID-19 travel policy that mandates 14-day quarantines for people who travel to these states from states with high coronavirus test rates. An exemption for NFL camps means the Bills, Jets and Giants will return to work under the same guidelines, despite the latter two franchises being headquartered in New Jersey. The teams’ players will need to be given COVID-19 tests upon arrival, and they will be restricted from working until the results arrive.

However, Patriots players will need to arrive sooner. Massachusetts is not working with the aforementioned three states, and Mike Reiss of ESPN.com notes that with Pats camp still set to open July 28, players who reside out of state must arrive by Tuesday and quarantine for 14 days. Massachusetts requires all non-essential travelers from non-New England states, or New York and New Jersey, to go through with post-arrival quarantines. This will affect many Patriot players.

Shifting away from COVID-19 matters, here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • While Jamal Adams has submitted a trade request and has indicated he would like to play for the Cowboys — one of the handful of teams on the All-Pro safety’s desired destination list — one of his Jets teammates classifies this as overblown. Le’Veon Bell said during a recent radio interview with Hot 97 (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter) he believes Adams wants to stay with the Jets. The fourth-year defender did say in December he wanted to stay with the Jets. However, he since skipped their virtual offseason program, requested a trade and has been linked to having issues with Adam Gase. This followed his issues with how GM Joe Douglas handled trade talks last fall.
  • The Jets have needed help on the edge for years, but they did not aggressively pursue aid on this front this offseason. They signed returning sack leader (with eight) Jordan Jenkins to a one-year deal and drafted Florida edge rusher Jabari Zuniga in Round 3. Do not expect the Jets to jump into a bidding war for Jadeveon Clowney, Everson Griffen or Markus Golden ahead of training camp, per Brian Costello of the New York Post. The Jets are open to signing a pass rusher on a low-cost deal but are eyeing some carryover cap space for 2021, per Costello. Gang Green currently possesses $24.5MM in space — fifth-most in the league. This would help toward an Adams extension.
  • Cam Newton has a 13% playing-time incentive in his Patriots contract. The former Panthers quarterback will earn $250K if he hits that threshold. This does not count toward New England’s cap, however, with Reiss indicating that since Newton played just 12% of Carolina’s 2019 snaps the Pats were permitted to categorize this seemingly easy-to-obtain incentive as “not likely to be earned.”
  • The Bills hired two business-side executives recently, naming Jason Sinnarajah as their VP of business administration and Mike McFarlane as VP of finance and administration. Co-owner Kim Pegula‘s official statement stressed the duo’s ties to Buffalo and commitment to Western New York. The Bills’ future in Buffalo is a tad murky, after Roger Goodell‘s comments about the franchise’s stadium situation, so Pegula mentioning new hires’ Buffalo ties is somewhat notable.

Breakdown Of Cam Newton’s Contract With Patriots

Cam Newton was connected to the Patriots all offseason, and though New England long insisted it was comfortable going into the 2020 season with second-year pro Jarrett Stidham under center, the club ultimately could not resist adding the 2015 MVP on a modest one-year pact.

It has been reported that the deal has a base value of just $1.05MM ($550K guaranteed), with $6.45MM in available incentives that could push the total to $7.5MM. Of those incentives, we knew that $700K came in the form of per-game roster bonuses. Field Yates of ESPN.com passes along the full breakdown, via Twitter:

  • $43,750 per game in which Newton is active, up to $700K, as noted above;
  • 13% of team snaps: $250K; 20%: $500K; 30%: $750K; 40%: $1MM; 50%: $1.25MM; 60%: $1.5MM (increases to $1.75MM if Patriots qualify for playoffs); 70%: $1.75MM ($2.25MM with playoffs); 80%: $2MM ($3MM with playoffs); 90%: $2.25MM ($3.75MM with playoffs);
  • Pro Bowl bonus: $500K;
  • All-Pro bonus: $500K;
  • $250K for each playoff win in which Newton plays at least 50% of the team’s snaps, up to a maximum of $1MM

So if Newton is healthy, a 2020 payout of about $4MM or so seems well within reach, and a healthy Newton will make the Pats a strong candidate to make the playoffs, so he could bump that number a bit higher with a postseason run. But it will take a lot of work to max out the contract’s value, and as Ben Volin of the Boston Globe observes (via Twitter), all of Newton’s incentives are tied to staying healthy and team performance. There are no individual stat incentives like those that appeared in Tom Brady’s contract in recent years.

Still, the Patriots are probably the best landing spot that Newton could have asked for to revive his career. The defense is strong, the division is winnable, and while the skill position talent could be better, it should be enough for Newton to work with. He can still be hit with the franchise tag in 2021 if he performs well, but a franchise tender would be a nice raise over what he’s getting this year, and a hefty multi-year extension would be in play as well.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

AFC East Notes: Patriots, Dolphins, Jets, Gase

Prior to being selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2016 draft, quarterback Jacoby Brissett wanted nothing to do with New England.

“I honestly did not want to be there,” Brissett said on the McCourty twins’ podcast (via Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston). “When I took my visit there — my pre-draft visit — I was like, ‘Hell no. If one team drafts me, it better not be them.’

“And I’ll never forget, (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) called me on the phone on draft night and I didn’t have his number saved. That’s how bad it was. I didn’t even have his number saved in my phone. I was like, ‘Damn, man.'”

You can’t necessarily blame Brissett for feeling that way. Besides having to play behind one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Tom Brady, the rookie QB was also behind former second-rounder Jimmy Garoppolo on the depth chart. Due to suspensions and injuries to his teammates, Brissett ended up seeing time in three games (two starts) during his rookie campaign. The following year, the Patriots shipped Brissett to the Colts in exchange for wideout Phillip Dorsett.

“Honestly, that was my wake-up to the NFL, was being traded and then the next week, you’re out there in a game,” Brissett added. “It was like, ‘We don’t care how long you’ve been here. You’d better know how to play.”

Let’s check out some more notes from the AFC East…

  • Speaking of Patriots quarterbacks, Cam Newton is in New England to complete his physical and finalize his one-year deal, reports NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (via Twitter). The reporter notes that the Patriots are confident in the quarterback’s “condition” and aren’t anticipating any issues with the physical. Injuries limited Newton to only a pair of games in 2019, forcing him to settle for a one-year, $1.75MM deal with New England.
  • If the Dolphins are forced to trim their training camp roster, then Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald points to a handful of undrafted rookies who could get cut, including offensive linemen Jonathan Hubbard, Nick Kaltmayer, and Donell Stanley. Jackson also opines that a handful of veterans could be sent packing, a group that includes offensive linemen Adam Pankey and Keaton Sutherland, quarterback Jake Rudock, fullback Chandler Cox, and receivers Ricardo Louis and Mack Hollins.
  • Connor Hughes of The Athletic did a somewhat similar exercise with the Jets, as he explored which players could be traded if New York gets off to a sluggish start. The writer points to wideout Breshad Perriman, linebacker Avery Williamson, running back Le’Veon Bell, defensive end Henry Anderson, and safety Marcus Maye as potential trade candidates.
  • While Hughes believes that Adam Gase has received some underserved criticism during his tenure in New York, the writer also can’t envision the Jets head coach keeping his job if the team finishes with seven or fewer wins. Of course, there are plenty of scenarios where the Jets struggle and Gase does keep his job, especially if quarterback Sam Darnold misses more time in 2020.

AFC Notes: Simmons, Newton, Ravens

Broncos safety Justin Simmons has still not signed his franchise tender, and like most players seeking new contracts, Simmons’ negotiations have been impacted in a big way by the pandemic. As a result, Ryan O’Halloran of the Denver Post believes Simmons is more likely to play out the 2020 campaign on his $12.7MM tender than land a multi-year pact. The one caveat to that would be if Simmons is willing to give Denver a hometown discount, but there have been no real indications that he is willing to do so.

However, O’Halloran does not expect the process to be an ugly one, and he fully believes Simmons will sign his tender and report to camp if there is no new deal in place by the July 15 deadline.

Let’s take a quick trip around the AFC:

  • Much has been made of the minimal guarantee and base salary that 2015 MVP Cam Newton stands to earn under his new one-year pact with the Patriots. 49ers CB Richard Sherman took to Twitter to express his outrage over the deal, calling it “disgusting” that a player like Newton would have to settle for such chump change (and ignoring the myriad injury concerns that led to the contract). But Newton himself, in his first public comments about the financial details (via Instagram), said simply “[t]his is not about money for me. It’s about respect.” A productive season in Foxborough would lead to Newton’s market rebounding in a big way in 2021, though the Pats may be inclined to use the franchise tag on him if that happens.
  • The Ravens lost future Hall-of-Fame RG Marshal Yanda to retirement this offseason, and though the club has a number of young players who could replace him, the pandemic will likely give veterans a leg up over less experienced talents. As such, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic expects D.J. Fluker to win the starting right guard gig, while 2019 left guard Bradley Bozeman is the clear favorite to reprise his role in 2020.
  • In the same piece linked above, Zrebiec notes that the Ravens, who recently cut veteran LB Jake Ryan, did so because both sides realized that Ryan — who has only played in two games since 2017 — still wasn’t healthy and wouldn’t have enough time to get healthy and learn the team’s defense.
  • In case you missed it, Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue may be prepared to sit out the entire 2020 season if he does not get traded.

Cam Newton Gets $550K Guaranteed From Patriots

The details on Cam Newton‘s contract are in. And they’re not all that favorable for the former MVP. Newton’s one-year deal guarantees him just $550K with a base salary of $1.05MM, according to Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). 

[RELATED: Newton’s Deal Does Not Prevent 2021 Franchise Tag]

Newton can earn up to $5.75MM in incentives and $700K in per game roster bonuses, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link) adds, bringing the contract’s total potential value to ~$7.5MM. The deal does not include a clause restricting the Patriots’ ability to franchise tag him either, so Newton’s post-2020 upside is somewhat limited.

The Browns also kicked the tires on Newton, but the Patriots were the only team to offer him a deal this offseason. Not long ago, Newton was one of the game’s most electrifying players and one of the league’s most dangerous threats under center. Three years and three surgeries later, he’s gone from an exclamation point to a question mark. Newton has missed 16 of his last 18 games and no one knows exactly what he has to offer in 2020.

Any way you slice it, Newton’s deal is as low-risk/high-reward as it gets. Newton, meanwhile, will have an opportunity to silence the critics and reclaim his status as one of the game’s best quarterbacks.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Newton, Williams, Giants

Most of Cam Newton‘s 2020 earning potential will be through incentives. As for base salary, the Patriots landed a former MVP for the league minimum. Newton will earn just $1.05MM in 2020 base salary, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reports (on Twitter). The Pats entered the week with the least cap space in the NFL. New England guaranteed Newton just $550K, which is notable given the veteran passer’s injury issues in recent years. Newton underwent foot surgery in December and has rehabbed that Lisfranc issue for several months. The 31-year-old standout can collect $6.45MM through incentives and pre-game roster bonuses, La Canfora adds. The contract does not prevent the Pats from franchise-tagging Newton next year.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • The Giants and Leonard Williams discussed a new deal late last season and before the March franchise tag deadline, but the sides were not especially close on terms. Now franchise-tagged at $16.1MM, Williams wants a deal that will pay him between $18-$20MM per year, SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano notes. The Giants did not want to go there. Although Dave Gettleman traded for Williams in a contract year, Vacchiano adds the ex-Jet may have less support among Giants brass. While Williams is a former top-10 pick, he has 17.5 sacks in five seasons — including a half-sack last year. That sack total ranks 84th since 2015, though the interior defender’s 101 QB hits rank 12th in that span. This massive gap, along with the tag, creates an interesting negotiation.
  • Evan Engram may have missed Giants team activities in a normal offseason; the fourth-year tight end underwent foot surgery late last year. But New York’s top tight end recently posted a video featuring him running and cutting, via the New York Post. While Engram is far from a safe bet, given his injury propensity as a pro, this represents a good sign for a Giants team that did not use its top skill-position configuration — Engram-Saquon BarkleySterling ShepardGolden TateDarius Slayton — once last season.
  • Despite the Patriots waiting until late June to add their likely starting quarterback, their QB situation now looks better than the Redskins‘. Ron Rivera discussed a Newton deal earlier this offseason but said this week the fit was not right in Washington. “If the circumstances had allowed us, I would not have had an issue with that,” Rivera said during an interview with 670 The Score (via NBC Sports Washington). “I would’ve been very confident and comfortable going after him and bringing him to be part of what we’re doing here.” The Redskins are set to enter training camp with Dwayne Haskins and Kyle Allen as their top healthy QBs, though Alex Smith remains on the roster.

Latest On Patriots, Cam Newton

The Patriots added Cam Newton in between their virtual offseason and the scheduled start of training camp. Newton’s asking price appears to have moved the needle between the parties.

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.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.