Last night we explained that signing quarterback Cam Newton could end up being the best of Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s many bets. Some argue it’s not a gamble at all, as Newton enters with a minimum veteran contract, allowing him to be released with minimal financial consequences.
While this is correct, as to the money that would be lost if Newton was not healthy or adjusting to it, it is still a gamble. Belichick brings one of the sport’s greatest personalities into the locker room, shaking Jarrett Stidham’s faith and shattering the expectations of the entire squad for training camp 2020. Although the pandemic necessarily disrupts the expectations of everyone for training camp 2020 and beyond, there isn’t much turmoil a team can handle. Brady is gone and the offseason schedule has been played out with players vouching for Stidham, and then, exactly one month before training camp opens, Cam Newton is on the squad.
While this may energize many players, the energy will not be justified until it is clear that Cam can be the Cam Cam was before a shoulder injury derailed his 2018 season and that ‘a foot injury will derail his 2019 season. And while Belichick and his staff have done a great job of embedding the’ do your job ‘mantra into the minds of everyone in the organization, it will be difficult for them. not to wonder how Newton will do his job as the team deals with the ultimate “distraction” from the task at hand.
But, remember, the dynamic of “distraction” only applies to players who are not good enough to justify accepting the risk of the rest of the team losing focus. Newton is worth it, if he’s healthy and stays close to the guy who won the league MVP title five years ago.
The bet comes from the possibility that Newton will no longer be that guy, that Belichick will eventually have to return the job to Stidham, and that the team will have spent time thinking and talking about a man who ultimately will not become the successor to Tom Brady when everyone could have focused on the fact (as they have been for almost four months) that Stidham will be the guy to replace Brady in the most important position on the pitch. If that doesn’t work, the disruption of the Patriot Way will make it harder for the team to be what they would have been if Newton hadn’t been signed.