After entering the offseason with many questions at quarterback, the Patriots now have some clarity for the future of the position. With the selection of Mac Jones in this year’s draft, it’s clear that he will soon hold the keys of the franchise within the next few years.
However, when it comes to Cam Newton’s situation, it gets a little more confusing.
Newton did not have an impressive 2020 campaign, to say the least.
He ended with eight passing touchdowns, a 65.8% completion rate, a little over 2,600 passing yards, and 10 interceptions.
After such an abysmal season, it was clear the Patriots needed some more help at the position going into the offseason.
That’s exactly why the Patriots decided to select Jones. It was a perfect fit, and it now provides some insurance if Newton underperforms once again.
While Newton may have not had the best season, not all of the blame can be put on him. New England had some of the worst weapons in the league last year. Many other quarterbacks would have likely struggled the same way Newton did.
Going into the 2021 season, things should be different, however. With players like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne added to the offense, Cam now has a rebooted roster full of competent weapons to utilize.
The question then arises: What happens if Newton exceeds expectations next season?
In a hypothetical scenario, as long as he wins the starting job, what if he improves mightily from last year and has a Pro Bowl-level season? How would the Patriots approach his future with the organization?
The former MVP is currently on a one-year contract that is set to expire after the 2021 season. Clearly, if he has a season similar to 2020, all signs would point to him losing the starting spot and paving the way for the Jones era.
But if Newton has a season where he looks rejuvenated, healthy, and productive, it may be a tougher decision to move off of him so quickly to replace him with Jones.
While it’s unrealistic to expect a 2015 MVP-type Newton to suit up for New England next year, if he can limit turnovers, prove to be more accurate throwing the ball, and continue his usefulness in the run game, he could make a case to be the starter for longer than one more season, especially if the Patriots manage to make the playoffs.
As tough as a decision it may be, even if Newton does exceed expectations in 2021, it would most likely be best for the Patriots to move off of him going forward.
Having Jones sit for longer than he needs to would not be wise on the Patriots’ part. As far as minicamp goes currently, Jones looks like he could possibly start Week 1. He looks good, so why should New England wait longer than one year to play him on a full-time basis, even if Newton has a renaissance?
The last thing New England wants is a Brett Favre-Aaron Rodgers situation on their hands. When you have a young, first-round quarterback talent on the roster who’s ready to play, you don’t want to have him wasting away his early years in the league as a backup.
As far as the 2021 season goes, Newton should have the starting spot for at least the majority of the season. However, in my eyes, unless he ends up being the league MVP or Super Bowl MVP (both of which are highly unlikely), the Patriots need to hand Jones the keys in 2022.