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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 13: Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne #84 of the San Francisco 49ers runs the ball for a first down and goal-to-go in the second half of the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 13, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

After watching how Cam Newton played for most of 2020, it’s hard to feel confident in him – but Kendrick Bourne does.

After the Patriots re-signed Newton to a one-year deal for $3.5 million guaranteed, reactions – the public ones, anyway – were overwhelmingly negative. And they’re not necessarily wrong. Can Newton throw and protect the football substantially better than he did in 2020, and do it a year older?

It’s a challenge for outside observers to believe in those prospects, let alone expect them. But inside the walls of Gillette Stadium, what’s important is that Newton’s new teammates believe. Bourne has bought in. And he’s buying into the idea that Newton, surrounded by vastly improved weapons and facing a full off-season of preparation, has a chance to be far better in 2021 than he was in 2020.

“I believe in Cam Newton, at the end of the day,” Bourne said. “I didn’t go looking around who was the starting quarterback here. The NFL is the NFL. I believe everybody’s good. I just believe it takes that right place, right time, right coaching, and stuff like that. New England knows what they’re doing. They picked Cam for a reason. They believe in him. One-year deal, it is what it is. All it takes is one year to become who you want to be. I think he has another opportunity, and that’s all that matters.

“I think he’s going to ball out, with the weapons they brought in, the help now. It was just one of those rebuilding years that they went through [in 2020]. He was a part of it. People may say ‘He did not look this good, he looked bad,’ or whatever it may be. But now he has some help and they know what they’re putting around him, which is awesome. I just want to be a part of – you know, five touchdowns, 10 touchdowns for him, and change the narrative.”

Bourne’s positive attitude isn’t even close to enough of a factor to keep Newton from throwing interceptions, or spiking throws into the turf at receivers’ feet. But his comments do underline the whirlwind of negative circumstances around both Newton’s season and the Patriots’ depleted offensive roster. Assuming Newton stays healthy, he will benefit from taking part in all the pre-July off-season workouts that he didn’t have in 2020. The Patriots obviously believe he will.

But the most stark difference between last year and this year is, without question, the upgrades the Patriots have made at wide receiver and tight end. So if Newton can improve upon last year and get to a serviceable level of play at quarterback, he’ll have a wealth of support around him to elevate the whole offense. Just because onlookers like us feel queasy about Newton manning the offense again, doesn’t mean the actual players need to feel the same.

The Patriots obviously went buck-wild in the first wave of NFL free agency, but what about the second? There are plenty of affordable veterans still out there who could fit in New England. Scroll down for some of the most intriguing names.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.