The New England Patriots signed Cam Newton in a Sunday night news bomb. You may have heard. It's a great fit for team and player. Even if Newton's skills have eroded a bit thanks to his lengthy injury history, he gives the Patriots their best chance to win football games in 2020. It's really as simple as that.
The move also signifies the Patriots aren't in love with Jarrett Stidham quite yet. They definitely like the kid, since they neglected to pick up any competition for him in the draft this year and more or less sat out the QB free agent bonanza of the spring. The latter is more due to the team's cap space issues than an active decision to not try and sign Philip Rivers or Teddy Bridgewater. After passing on a quarterback in the draft and only adding Brian Hoyer to the roster, it felt like New England was preparing to see what Stidham could do.
But now they have Newton. Stephen A. Smith reported this morning on Get Up that the Patriots were also looking at Colin Kaepernick, but decided Newton was the better fit. All of this together is the first sign in the months since Tom Brady left town that Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are not 100 percent confident that Stidham is their guy.
What's interesting about the timing of the Newton signing is that Stidham hasn't gotten a chance to showcase any of his improvements from 2019. The Patriots are basing their opinion of Stidham off what they've seen and what they think he could be. With coronavirus locking down the country, Stidham couldn't get on the field in front of the coaching staff at any point before training camp. If the Patriots really thought Stidham was the future, they would've seen what they had in August before bringing in more bodies.
This shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone. Stidham was a fourth-round pick for a reason, Newton is a former MVP, Belichick has no intention of playing the long game and punting on 2020 given his own age and that of his roster. However, it did seem very Patriots that they were going to stubbornly stick to their guns and be faithful to the guy they evaluated highly enough to select him in the 2019 draft.
Yet they have surprised everyone once more. Nothing about this is permanent. Any number of events can occur between now and September that would give us the end result we've been expecting for months: Stidham's No. 4 jersey under center for Week 1. But the Patriots aren't nearly as confident in Stidham as everyone assumed.