New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MA - AUGUST 22: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers enters the field prior to the start of the preseason game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff,

Jeff Howe of The Athletic has provided some key details to the Patriots’ signing of quarterback Cam Newton on Sunday night. Mainly, that he “wasn’t guaranteed the starting job.”

Sounds strange to say about a former No. 1 overall pick, the 2015 NFL MVP who played in the Super Bowl that season, and easily the most athletically gifted and accomplished QB on the Patriots’ roster.

But here’s the reality: Newton reportedly signed for a “bare minimum” deal with incentives worth up to $7.5 million. Thirty-one teams passed on that deal. And Newton is a 31-year-old whose running has been an asset coming off a Linsfranc injury. Not to mention two shoulder surgeries prior to that.

CHARLOTTE, NC - AUGUST 24: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers throws a pass against the New England Patriots in the second quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on August 24, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Cam Newton is easily the most accomplished quarterback on the Patriots’ roster, but he’s no sure thing to start. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

So, yeah maybe anyone who acted like the Pats just signed the 2015 version of Newton should pump the brakes. Even me. But to be fair to me, this tweet wasn’t to say Newton will definitely be the starter, but just to make a dank-ass meme for the people.

Howe also reported two other key details: that the Patriots weren’t significantly interested in Newton until he lowered his contract demands, and that his signing isn’t related to the “performance” of second-year QB Jarrett Stidham. The Pats had only about $650,000 in cap space, so not only was a minimum deal a necessity but they’ll also have to maneuver cap space in a number of different ways.

As for Stidham, he still represents the Patriots’ best combination of upside and experience in the system. Newton has his MVP pedigree, but has a lot to learn in the coming weeks. But since the Patriots didn’t seem to want more than one year of commitment … perhaps Newton will simply be a stopgap to let “Brother Stid” (as Matt Slater called him) marinate for another year.

If Newton can regain even something close to his 2015 form under Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and keeps the Patriots firmly in the Super Bowl conversation … win-win for both sides. And perhaps the best possible eff you for Belichick to the rest of the league.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at