Cam Newton was a free agent this offseason for a very long time.
Several months went by and none of the 32 NFL teams agreed to sign him until reports surfaced Sunday night of the New England Patriots and the 31-year-old quarterback coming to terms on a one-year contract worth up to $7.5 million.
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Newton was released in March by the Carolina Panthers, and despite his extraordinary talent and impressive body of work over nine seasons with the NFC South franchise (including a 2015 NFL MVP), there surprisingly weren't many suitors for him in free agency, according to reports.
ESPN's Stephen A. Smith loves the move for both the Patriots and Newton. Whether it is Newton's motivation to prove his doubters wrong, his dual-threat skill set, or New England's elite coaching staff, Smith sees the Patriots as a great spot for Newton to resurrect his career.
"I loved it," Smith said Monday on ESPN morning show "Get Up!" "I loved it because I know what a tremendous athlete Cam Newton is. I know how hungry he is to really shut up the naysayers that have questioned his level of greatness and what he's produced throughout his career. A combination of that, with not just the greatness of Bill Belichick but a highly-motivated Bill Belichick, who's out to prove that he can indeed win without Tom Brady as his quarterback. I think all the stars have aligned. I love the idea of these two together. I think he can help Cam Newton be a better quarterback. I think Cam Newton, although not the passer Tom Brady has been throughout his illustrious career, I don't think there's any question that Tom Brady is not in his stratosphere as an athlete -- the ability to move the chains and the ability to run with the football and make things happen with his legs. The dual-threat Cam Newton will present at the quarterback position with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels as your offensive coordinator, I think it can produce some big-time dividends for the Patriots.
"I'm excited for Cam Newton, particularly since he's highly-motivated and since so much about him has been questioned. Because him and Bill Belichick right now might be two of the top three most motivated people in the entire NFL, with Tom Brady obviously being in that top three as well."
The Patriots have been given plenty of bulletin board material all offseason.
Oddsmakers put the Buffalo Bills ahead of them to win the AFC East next season. Lots of experts also have given a variety of reasons for why the Patriots won't be a legit Super Bowl contender without Tom Brady. One former player even predicted the Cleveland Browns would be better than the Patriots in 2020.
Newton, as Smith pointed out, also has been doubted all offseason. He has plenty of critics to prove wrong, and that's why this move has the potential to be a stroke of genius by Belichick. If it works out, a healthy Newton could help the Patriots make a surprisingly deep run in the AFC playoffs next season. If it doesn't work out, the Patriots can move on with Jarrett Stidham at quarterback without having sacrificed a ton of salary cap space to give Newton a chance.
Newton is only 31 years old and his last good season was just two years ago in 2018. He should have plenty of gas left in the tank, and with head coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels leading the way, Newton could have a tremendous bounce-back season in 2020. Perhaps that's why oddsmakers have made him one of the favorites to win the Comeback Player of the Year Award.