A Patriots-Cam Newton partnership felt inevitable after Tom Brady left New England for the Buccaneers and the Panthers released Newton around the same time in March. Well, "inevitable" lasted three months, but the sides finally have gotten together.
New England has agreed to a one-year contract with the free-agent quarterback, according to multiple reports Sunday. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the deal is "incentive-laden" and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported the contract was a "bare minimum" deal, and then added that the deal could be worth up to $7.5 million.
Newton posted on his Instagram story Sunday evening that he is "as excited as I don't know what right now" and added a #letsgopats hashtag in his trademark social media font.
Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, was limited to two games last season with the Panthers because of a Lisfranc injury to his foot. He has also dealt with knee and shoulder injuries in recent years. He has been posting workout videos on Instagram during his free-agent period to show he is fit.
If healthy, Newton would be poised to serve as the short-term replacement for Brady. Second-year pro Jarrett Stidham has been touted as the starter this offseason, backed up by longtime Pats reserve Brian Hoyer.
This next phase in Newton's NFL career follows a breakup with the franchise that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011 after he had led Auburn to a BCS national championship. Newton had one year and $19 million remaining on a five-year, $103.8 million contract when Carolina cut him on March 24 after trying to trade him. The Patriots reportedly were interested in acquiring him then but didn't want to pay that salary and give up trade assets.
New England is also entering a new phase after ending a two-decade relationship with Brady. Stidham, the team's fourth-round selection in the 2019 draft, was set to get the first shot at succeeding the franchise icon. Now comes Newton to provide what is expected to be stiff competition.
Newton, 31, became an immediate sensation in the NFL thanks to his singular ability to control a game with his combination of passing and power running, not to mention his megawatt smile and huge personality. He is the Panthers' all-time leader with 58 rushing touchdowns, the team's third-leading rusher with 4,806 yards, and its leader in all major passing categories except for completion percentage.
Injuries did not deter Newton from running the ball late in his Panthers tenure, and if his body has healed sufficiently over the past eight or so months, then he would enable Pats coach Bill Belichick and coordinator Josh McDaniels to overhaul an offense that had relied on Brady making precision throws from the pocket. New England's complementary skill players include wide receivers Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry and running backs James White and Sony Michel.