If the Cam Newton is fully recovered from his injuries, the Patriots may have landed a veteran quarterback who’ll be determined to show that he was wrongly snubbed in the free-agency market by other NFL teams. Brian Blanco/Associated Press

Signing Cam Newton three days short of the calendar hitting July might cause some to shake their heads, but it makes total sense in Hoodie-land.

This was a classic Bill Belichick move.

It’s unpredictable, and yet, so predictable in many ways. Maybe that’s why landing Newton seemed to come out of nowhere, even if the New England Patriots had been the odds-on favorite to sign the free agent quarterback for the longest time.

Belichick had his eyes on Newton for months. But the Patriots head coach and chief decision-maker didn’t tip his hand. He was incredibly patient before deciding to pounce, given he keenly understood the quarterback landscape.

He knew he could eventually get Newton on his terms because he sensed there wouldn’t be much of a market for the former NFL MVP. In the interim, he touted both Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer as his possible starters to keep people off the scent.

Once Newton couldn’t get a sniff of the type of deal he believed he warranted, Belichick stepped up the efforts to land his man.


The one-year prove-it-type deal the quarterback agreed to with the Patriots is certainly more in line with Belichick’s contract preferences, as opposed to handing out some fat, overpriced deal for a star player with an injury history.

With a month before training camps are expected to start up, Newton was happy to sign on the dotted line and get the ball rolling. Before the Patriots re-entered the picture, there were few, if any, chances for him to be in the mix to start anywhere, much less for a competitive team. That meant Belichick had played his cards right.

So put the former Panthers quarterback in that low risk, high reward category Belichick has successfully cultivated in the past.

But there’s so much more to the Newton equation that reeks of Belichick, and checks off multiple Hoodie boxes.

In terms of getting a player who has been tough on the Patriots in the past, Newton joins Wes Welker, who still stands as the poster boy for that club. Welker had been a Patriots killer before Belichick made the move for him.

Newton, meanwhile, was 2-0 in the games played against Belichick’s outfit. In 2013, he threw three touchdowns and led the Panthers in rushing with 62 yards in a 24-20 win in Carolina.


Then in 2017, he beat them 33-30 in a Foxborough shootout. He threw three touchdown passes in that game, too.

“I’m happy to not play against him,” defensive captain Devin McCourty said of the newest Patriots acquisition during his Sunday night podcast. “He always kills us.”

The latter actually made the Hoodie a huge fan of Newton. But, the biggest category Belichick checked off Sunday by signing the quarterback wasn’t past performance against the Patriots.

It’s the one where he’s getting a player who will be super-motivated to prove the doubters wrong. The slights can be big or small. Just think back to linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Rob Ninkovich and Mike Vrabel, all of whom weren’t put in opportunities to succeed on previous teams before landing in New England and becoming stars.


How do you think a former NFL MVP, who is still in the prime of his career, reacts to being a free agent, and having no legitimate takers for his services?


Think that sits well?

Between the incentive-laden deal Newton signed with the Patriots, and the cold shoulder he received since gaining free agency in April, Belichick knows Newton will be hell bent on showing he’s still a top quarterback. He knows the former Heisman Trophy winner, and Auburn national champion will be driven to resurrect his career.

It worked for the Patriots when the Buccaneers dumped Darrelle Revis. It also worked when the Raiders no longer wanted Randy Moss.

In that way, it makes a lot of sense for the Patriots to take a shot on the veteran, who missed last season due to surgery to repair a Lisfranc fracture in his foot. If Newton is healthy, and plays like MVP Newton, he’ll be the starter. It’s hard to imagine an unproven Jarrett Stidham topping what a vintage Newton offers, especially with Tom Brady’s shadow in the rearview mirror.

Newton, a nine-year veteran who’s played in the Super Bowl, won’t likely be intimidated or impacted by replacing the GOAT. Plus, having Newton step in allows Stidham more time to develop. He also improves the chances of the Patriots winning more games than expected in 2020, something Brian Hoyer isn’t likely to accomplish.

If Newton doesn’t cut it, no harm, no foul. It was worth taking the shot.


Maybe all the past physical problems, with arm and foot surgeries, continue to plague Newton and it doesn’t work out. So be it. At the very least, he’ll provide better competition for Stidham, who will feel more pressed to earn the job.

George Whitfield Jr., a noted quarterbacks coach who previously worked with Newton, makes no apologies or excuses for his former pupil. Reached Sunday night shortly after the news broke, Whitfield said he believes Belichick is going to be rewarded for his patience, and get the best from the now 31-year-old signal-caller.

Having touched base with Newton recently, Whitfield offered an interesting perspective on the mindset of the former first-overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft.

“He’s going to be a tiger,” said Whitfield. “It’ll be an opportunity for Cam to re-introduce himself. I mean, the motivation, that tank is full. It’s going to be a lot like how Brady was when he came into the league with all those teams passing on him. Cam would be the best quarterback in the (AFC East). And yet, you had all these teams who haven’t won and beat the Patriots passing on him? Fine, here come the champs. I think there’s motivation on both sides.”

Granted, the champs came with a deal that’s nearly four times less than Colts backup Jacoby Brissett, but also provide an opportunity for Newton to succeed a legend.

Newton had been in touch with the Patriots early on during his free agency, but Belichick didn’t seem overly interested. Most of the quarterback buzz revolved around Stidham, and how the kid whose NFL career passing attempts topped off at four last season, was poised to take over.


But now, the real fun begins. Belichick has created a competition, and will once again look like a genius if either Newton or Stidham succeeds in the Patriots’ post-Brady world.

Personality-wise, the two appear as polar opposites, with Stidham much more reserved.

Newton is flamboyant, calls attention to himself by how he dresses, and on occasion, how he acts. In that way, he doesn’t seem Patriot-like. If he delivers, though, the Patriots are likely to bend. That’s how it’s been with other deviants.

Not surprisingly, Whitfield was betting on Newton making the most of the opportunity.

“It’ll come down to an exchange,” said Whitfield. “If (Cam) produces at the level the Patriots expect him to produce, I think they’ll give him a little bit of rope.

“They know who he is. They’ve played against him,” Whitfield added. “Every player has his own way of doing things, and Cam has his own. But is he a professional? Does he work hard? Does he try to win every game he goes out to play? Once they add up all of that, I think they’ll give him some rope.”


Belichick, of course, has calculated all the angles and storylines. He knows what he’s getting, or hopes to get from Newton.

To him, given the Patriot-friendly price-tag, it makes perfect sense. Whatever happens, it’s all icing on the cake.

“Think about it, for the first time in 20 years, he’s changing the guard up front,” Whitfield said of Belichick. “In that time, they’ve always been led out of the tunnel by 12. In their current form, they’ve never come out behind anyone else. And now, all of a sudden, they’re going to have another general, and that could be Cam, who’s won an MVP, who’s in his prime, fired up. Oh my goodness, what a handoff.”

Without a doubt, the move screams Belichick.

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