Sunday was one of ups and downs for Robert Kraft and the New England Patriots; who signed former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton to a one-year contract, but also received punishment from the league for illegally filming the Cincinnati Bengals sideline in 2019.
The NFL fined the club $1.1 million for the illegal filming, took a 2021 third-round draft pick and banned them from filming any games in 2020.
But Kraft and company managed to bury the news; announcing an incredibly team-friendly deal for the 2015 league MVP.
Newton signed to a one-year contract worth up to $7.5 million; but with the majority of the money owed coming in the form of incentives makes the deal even less risky for New England. If they get anything close to the 2015 version of Newton its an absolute steal. If he can’t stay healthy or is a shell of his former self, they’ll still likely get more out of him than they did Antonio Brown; who they paid a $9 million signing bonus to play one game.
Newton joins fellow former Auburn Tiger Jarret Stidham and journeyman Brian Hoyer in the New England quarterbacks room, so let’s take a look at the Patriot’s latest quarterback battle.
Newton took the league by storm as the top-overall draft pick for Carolina in 2011; dominating on the ground and through the air. As a rookie he eclipsed 4,000 passing yards and 21 touchdowns, while adding another 750 yards and 14 scores en route to Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.
He steadily emerged as not only the face of the Panthers but also one of the most dominant player’s in the NFL, climaxing in 2015. He led a wide receiver corps of Philly Brown, Ted Ginn Jr, Jerricho Cotchery and Devin Funchess to a 15-1 regular season and berth in Super Bowl 50. But the Von Miller and the Denver Broncos shut him and Carolina down; and Newton hasn’t been quite the same since.
In 2018, his most recent full season, the Panthers’ struggled as a team; going 7-9 and missing the playoffs. Despite this Newton managed to complete 68 percent of his passes for 3,395 yards and 24 touchdowns over 14 games. He maintained his status as a dual-threat QB as well, rushing for another 500 yards and four scores.
However at 31-years-old and a history of shoulder and foot injuries (including one that sidelined him for all but two games last year), meaning his ability to effectively remain on the field is anything but a guarantee; so what’s on Stidham’s and Hoyer’s resume?
Like Newton, Stidham finished his college football career at Auburn; but that’s about where the similarities end.
Stidham is smaller and less mobile, with very limited abilities outside of the pocket; but was still more than serviceable in his final season at Auburn. He went out with a bang, blowing out the Purdue Boilermakers 63-14 in his final appearance during the 2018 Music City Bowl; tossing almost 400 yards and 5 touchdowns to no interceptions.
After the Patriots selected him with in the fourth round of the 2019 draft, he appeared in mop up duty in three contests. The extremely brief action he saw showed him throw just four passes, completing two and throwing one interception.
Obviously head coach Bill Belichick sees promise in Stidham as a potential long-term solution; but likely sees his lack of experience as a red flag.
Hoyer is the longest tenured quarterback in the competition and in his third stint with New England since entering the league in 2009. He’s spent the majority of his career as a back-up, but does have experience as a NFL QB-1.
After appearing in just 18 contests over his first five year’s in the league, he won the starter job for the Cleveland Browns in 2014 and did a decent job; going 7-6 in 13 starts. Despite the relative success he showed he was little more than a game manager, throwing more just 12 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and just 7.6 yards per attempt.
At 34-years-old and with an overall record of 16-22; Hoyer has the necessary experience to lead a team but really possess qualities more suited for educating and coaching others than taking the wheel himself.