The New England Patriots signed Cam Newton to a one-year contract Sunday.
Newton has yet to take a snap, and the Patriots' Super Bowl odds improved across the board at major sportsbooks. New England (20-1) has the third-best odds among AFC teams behind Kansas City (5-1) and Baltimore (6-1), according to Points Bet USA. That's exactly why Bill Belichick made this move, and it's also why bringing Newton in is justifiable. It comes down to four questions that the signing answers.
Let's take a look at those questions:
Why did the Patriots make this move now?
You could argue it's to counteract news New England will lose a draft pick and be fined more than $1 million for the incident involving a television crew filming the Bengals sideline during a game against the Browns last season.
The more likely scenario is Belichick allowed the market to cool for Newton, who was released on March 24 — one week after Carolina was given permission to seek a trade. That was four days after Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay. New England now has another possible starting option at quarterback to go along with Jarrett Stidham, a fourth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft who impressed last preseason.
We saw this move coming then, so it should not be a surprise now.
Teddy Bridgewater, Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston all found other landing spots. None of those quarterbacks have won a playoff game. Newton started in Super Bowl 50.
It's a calculated move that makes sense given Newton was signed to a one-year incentive-laden deal that could help offset those losses from the taping incident.
This is very New England: Now if Cam Newton plays well in 2020, and leaves as a free agent, the Patriots could get back a compensatory 2022 third-round pick to help make up for 2021 third-round pick the NFL is taking away from New England for its videotape violation.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 29, 2020
Will Cam Newton start for Patriots in Week 1?
Ask an Auburn fan which quarterback was better. That debate won't take long.
That's an oversimplification given Newton played for the Tigers in 2010, and he will have to prove he's healthy after suffering a foot injury in the preseason against New England last season. Assuming Newton is good to go, then he can prove he's the starter in the preseason. There is more than a decent chance he will be the Week 1 starter when New England plays Miami on Sept. 13.
This is comparable to Philadelphia in 2010. Kevin Kolb began the season as the Eagles starter, but he was replaced by Michael Vick, a former No. 1 pick who signed with the team the previous season. Vick resurrected his career with the Eagles by going 8-3 as a starter.
He passed for 3,018 yards, 21 TDs and six interceptions and rushed for 676 yards and nine TDs in Andy Reid's system as a 30-year-old quarterback.
Newton turned 31 in May.
Will Newton resurrect his career?
That is the opportunity being presented, and it makes for a dominant storyline that intertwines with Brady being in Tampa Bay.
Newton won NFL MVP honors in 2015 with 3,837 passing yards, 636 rushing yards and 45 total TDs. He's one of the most-physically imposing players of all time at the position, and this gives Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels a new type of quarterback. For a team famous for reinvented itself on a week-to-week basis, this is an exciting proposition.
Belichick has always been a fan of Newton, too:
Here's what Bill Belichick said about Cam Newton in 2017: pic.twitter.com/VeixKSakaJ— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) June 29, 2020
In two career games against the Pats, Newton is 2-0 with 525 passing yards, 106 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns.
Can Newton still be a dynamic dual-threat quarterback? That is the big question. He ranks third all time in rushing yards behind Vick (6,109) and Randall Cunningham (4,928). We mentioned Vick's second act, but Cunningham offers another valid comparison.
At 35 years old, he led Minnesota to the best record in the NFC in 1998. He was 13-1 as a starter and passed for 3,704 yards, 34 TDs and just 10 interceptions. Cunningham's days as a running quarterback were done by then, but Dennis Green found the best way to use his skillset.
That is what Belichick will try to do now.
Is that enough for Patriots to win the AFC?
The Chiefs and Ravens are the best teams in the AFC heading into 2020, and it's been a long time since the Patriots weren't considered the favorites.
Kansas City and Baltimore bring the last two NFL MVPs to the table.
Lamar Jackson rushed for 1,207 yards and seven touchdowns in 2019, while Patrick Mahomes passed for 5,097 yards and 50 touchdowns the year prior. Mahomes led the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl victory in 50 years last season.
That should be all the motivation Newton needs to succeed. Newton – the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft – is capable of leading a Super Bowl run, too, and now he's on the most-successful franchise of the last two decades.
That's why the Super Bowl odds moving are justified, and New England just became that much more interesting to watch in 2020.