By Paapa Ewool, Howard University News Service
Free agent quarterback Cam Newton has signed a 1-year, $14 million deal to stay with the New England Patriots for the 2021 season.
The 2015 MVP signed with New England last spring as a short-term replacement for Tom Brady, who departed the team after 20 seasons to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Newton’s re-signing comes off the back of a video featuring a high school player taunting Newton at a football camp for being a free agent went viral last month.
Despite Newton’s less than stellar numbers last season (8-to-10 TD-to-INT ratio, 24th in passing yards, 18th in yards per attempt), his work ethic and attitude impressed the Patriots’ coaching staff.
“The Patriots felt very good about how he fit in there and how he worked,” ESPN NFL Insider Dan Graziano said. “And the feeling is mutual.”
Newton’s return doesn’t automatically ensure that he’ll be back under center by Week 1. The Patriots are still in the market to trade for a QB such as Jimmy Garoppolo, who was a backup for Brady in New England for 2014-2017, or select a quarterback in the upcoming draft next month. That would deem Newton expendable.
“(Newton’s signing) simply gives New England insurance at the quarterback position,” said ESPN analyst and former linebacker Bart Scott. “They could just as easily give him the greyhound ticket soon after.”
Newton’s return was just one of a bevy of free agent signings the Patriots made this offseason. After a disappointing season, which saw them finish with their first losing record since 2000, the Patriots have reinforced both sides of the ball. The team brought in tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and wide receivers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. Defensively, they signed outside linebacker Matt Judon and safety Jalen Mills.
Newton was visibly excited at the chance to run it back with a rejuvenated roster.
“When you realize things are already different…the second go round!” Newton exclaimed on an Instagram post.
Given their offseason moves and the elite players like linebacker Dont’a Hightower returning after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID, the Patriots are many people’s sleeper picks to go deep into this year’s playoffs. After seeing their former leader Tom Brady lead his new team to a championship, Newton and the Pats will be eager to assume their throne as kings of the league.