When the New England Patriots signed Cam Newton to a one-year deal for the minimum last offseason, they were hopeful that it would ultimately result in a contract extension.
While a reunion hasn’t officially been ruled out, it’s highly unlikely and that’s understandable given how underwhelming Newton was under center for the majority of the campaign.
We would argue that he was doomed from the start given the delayed and truncated offseason, as well as the Patriots’ lack of dynamism on offense. However, the former MVP certainly didn’t cover himself in glory, ranking 34th in the league in passing touchdowns (eight), 24th in passing yards (2,657), 21st in yards per attempt (7.2) and 18th in completion percentage (65.8%).
Now, the Patriots are looking to find their third starter in as many seasons, and it remains to be seen how they plan to address the vacant position. While the fan base has all but crossed off backup Jarrett Stidham as a potential option, running back James White recently explained why he might have a chance to compete for the job in 2021.
Could Jarrett Stidham be in contention for the Patriots’ starting job next season?
“I am sure he’s chomping at the bit to get his opportunity,” White said during an interview SiriusXM NFL Radio this week. “I think he will be a guy that can get some things done. He works hard. Strong arm, studies hard, prepares hard and it’s tough being a backup.”
“He may not get many reps as he wants to, but he stayed motivated throughout that entire season.He got to play sometimes towards the end of games. He’s a young guy excited to get out there. You want to play those four full quarters and get your opportunity. I am sure he’s working hard this offseason to prove that he can do that.”
We wouldn’t overreact too strongly to these comments, as it could just be a case of White, widely regarded as one of the most genuine souls in the league, gassing up a teammate who’s given it all behind the scenes despite limited opportunities. If handed a lie detector test, we’d like to think he wouldn’t actually believe Stidham gives the Patriots the best chance to win games.
On the other side of the spectrum, however, the Patriots adding a cheap veteran in free agency or selecting one of the top prospects with the No. 15 overall pick in the draft might actually give Stidham the chance to stake his claim as the starter. Given his familiarity with the playbook, he would no doubt have the upper hand in that battle.
Stidham playing as sparingly as he did in 2020 amid Newton’s consistent struggles spoke volumes to how little evaluation of him the coaching staff needed, so in a perfect world they (as well as the fan base) wouldn’t have the 2019 fourth-round pick listed atop the quarterback depth chart coming out of training camp.
As White comments imply, however, the Patriots might have no other choice but to give him a shot if they don’t trade for an established star…and the chances of that happening appear to be diminishing by the day.