Cam Newton

Quarterback Cam Newton and the Patriots were 7-9 a year ago, but the team has made significant moves in free agency this week to improve the roster. whether the team moves to get another quarterback remains to be seen. Steven Senne/Associated Press


In what seemed like the blink of an eye, the Patriots successfully beefed up their defense, and added some legitimate weapons on offense.

Former Chargers tight end Hunter Henry was the latest free-agent splash Tuesday, giving the Patriots the best tight end duo in the league. At this stage, with more than a half-dozen signings, Bill Belichick has built – or rather, rebuilt – the Patriots into a pretty good team.

What’s left on the to-do-list?


The most important position on the field remains a bit of a mystery. Behind curtain No. 1 is Cam Newton, who’s already in-house, along with a quarterback-to-be-named later in the draft. Behind curtain No. 2 is Jimmy Garoppolo, who is currently the 49ers’ starter. Behind curtain No. 3 is another veteran who might break free (Marcus Mariota, Teddy Bridgewater, Gardner Minshew) at some point down the road. Deshaun Watson may be behind this curtain, too.

Right now, all of those options seem in play, with curtain No. 1 the leader in the clubhouse.

It’s certainly possible the Patriots clued in Henry, Smith, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne to their ultimate quarterback plan to help lure them to Foxborough. Or maybe the Pats simply let the money talk.

Whatever the case, the final answer to the mystery probably won’t come until right around the draft, where there could be more fireworks.

It’s no secret Garoppolo is the apple of Belichick’s eye, but that scenario still seems like a long shot. The 49ers aren’t budging at the moment, and won’t, unless they land someone better.

Watson? His name has come up in relation to the Patriots, but that talk seems even more of a fantasy than Jimmy G.

Even with Belichick spending like a mad man, and landing his targets at all costs, it’s still hard imagining him surrendering a king’s ransom for a quarterback. But then again, who saw him landing the top two tight ends on the market?

Maybe lightning will strike twice, but sticking with Newton and adding a quarterback in the draft looks like the best bet.

Even with Newton’s deficiencies throwing the football, Belichick just might believe Cam can lead this team back into the playoffs.

With a power offense that leads with the running game and a stellar offensive line, and has its best assets at tight end, Newton could manage. That might be what Belichick is banking on.

After all, it’s basically the same blueprint that works in Baltimore with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.

The Patriots are still looking for running backs, and with the return of Trent Brown, and tight ends who can block, it’s the type of offense Newton should be able to engineer, even if it’s capable of being a passing offense as well.

In this scenario, though, Newton is a short-term fix for a longer-term solution, one who has a similar skill set to Cam, but with a better arm.

And that sets up the intrigue with regard to the actual draft.

After what’s taken place the last few days, will Belichick now be more inclined to move up the board to land one of the big guns? Is BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance on their radar? They fit the profile.

Or, does Belichick think he’s strengthened his team so much that he can take the best from the next wave, be it Kellen Mond or Jamie Newman, and have Newton steer the ship until passing the baton?

With most of his pressing needs taken care of, be it receiver, tight end, defensive line and pass rusher, Belichick can certainly package picks and move up the board.

As it is, it’s doubtful the Patriots will use all nine picks from the 2021 draft. There won’t be enough open roster spots, and they may not have the money left over to pay for all of them. But they could package them as trade capital.

For a first-round quarterback?

Don’t discount it, especially with Belichick surprising the masses with his unprecedented spending binge the past two days.

Most of the new signings are fairly young, and on multi-year deals. And with Belichick putting Humpty Dumpty back together again with all of the players he’s assembled, taking a shot on a quarterback in the draft actually makes sense.

Even if it means sticking with Newton for the short term.

Related Headlines

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.