The New England Patriots can probably provide Cam Newton with a better opportunity to start in Week 1 than just about any other NFL team, but it is not a guarantee that he will earn the job. The former MVP apparently understood that from the start.
Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston reports that the Patriots have no concerns about the shoulder injury and fractured foot that hampered Newton the last two seasons. Newton has also already been studying New England’s playbook, and the team is confident he will master it. However, Bill Belichick has every intention of holding an open quarterback competition for the Week 1 starting job, and the Pats have not hid that from Newton.
There are two other quarterbacks on the Patriots roster who could conceivably start in Week 1. Jarrett Stidham might be the most obvious choice outside of Newton. New England used a fourth-round pick on the former Auburn star last year, and he has already spent a year in the team’s offense. However, if both Newton and Stidham fail to impress, veteran Brian Hoyer could also enter the mix. Hoyer has plenty of starting experience and is in his third stint with the Patriots.
According to Curran, Newton understands that it will be difficult for him to get up to speed in a shortened offseason and would not demand a trade or release if he doesn’t win the Week 1 starting job. Even if he doesn’t start in Week 1, it is viewed as “inevitable” that Newton will start for the Patriots at some point in 2020 as long as he’s healthy.
Newton’s contract with the Patriots could be worth as little as the NFL minimum if he does not meet incentives, but he has already made it clear that he is not concerned about the money this season. The goal for the 31-year-old is to prove he can stay healthy and play at a high level again. If Stidham or Hoyer beats him out this summer, Newton’s opportunity should still come at a later date.