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#pounditThursday, January 20, 2022

Cam Newton

Cam Newton still first in Patriots’ QB order for now?

Cam Newton

Cam Newton appears to be operating as the New England Patriots’ No. 1 quarterback for the time being.

The Patriots had a practice on Monday that was open to the media. ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss shared that Newton went first in the reps he saw. Mac Jones, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer went after Newton.

The Patriots signed Newton for the minimum salary last year. He began the season well but then was placed on the COVID-19 list. Upon returning from COVID, Newton was not good as a quarterback, though he was still able to run the ball effectively.

Newton re-signed with the Patriots for this season, and the team may have some confidence in him. But they drafted Jones No. 15 overall out of Alabama. It’s unclear to what extent they will give Jones an opportunity to beat out Newton, but there is some believe there will be a competition.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Cam Newton already has nickname for Mac Jones

Cam Newton hat

Cam Newton may find himself competing for a starting job with Mac Jones at some point, but the former NFL MVP is not letting that stop him from establishing a friendly relationship with his new teammate.

Newton is known for coming up with nicknames for teammates and coaches, and he already has one for Jones. The rookie told reporters this week that Newton calls him “Mac and cheese.”

Jones also said Newton has been great in helping him transition to the NFL, but let’s focus on the nickname — Mac and cheese? Really?

We’d say Newton can do better than that, but can he? His nickname for offensive lineman Isaiah Wynn wasn’t terrible, but the one he came up with for Bill Belichick was quite a stretch.

Newton comes up with so many nicknames that he is probably running out of ideas, but we commend him for his commitment to being that guy.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Mac Jones already poised to beat out Cam Newton?

Mac Jones

Bill Belichick has made it clear that Cam Newton remains the New England Patriots’ starting quarterback even after they drafted Mac Jones. That is easy for the coach to say months before the start of the season, but it is fair to wonder how long he can stick to it.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald shared some observations after watching both Newton and Jones take part in organized team activities on Thursday. While it is far too early to draw conclusions about the quarterback competition, she said there is already a feel that it is playing out. And at least for one practice, it sounds like Jones looked like the better option.

Newton has been working on his mechanics this offseason, and Guregian notes that he appears to have made progress with his delivery on short throws. However, Newton displayed some issues throwing to his right and had deeper passes sail on him. He also had some issues with accuracy during drills.

Jones, on the other hand, is “clearly polished on the finer points of playing the position,” according to Guregian.

“There was one drill where the quarterbacks would make a play-fake before delivering the football. His fakes were smooth, despite playing mostly from the shotgun at Alabama,” the reporter said of Jones. “And all the pre-draft hype about him throwing a ‘catchable ball’ were on target. He leads receivers and puts the ball in the perfect spot.

“He has a nice release, is accurate and gets rid of the ball quickly.”

Again, we’re talking about OTAs. Belichick probably does not want a rookie starting Week 1, but Jones is going to do everything he can to force the coach’s hand.

Jones showed that he is thrilled with where he ended up with the message he delivered to Roger Goodell at the draft (video here). That is likely because the No. 15 overall pick knows how Newton played last season. If Cam doesn’t show drastic improvement, it will only be a matter of time before he loses his job to the rookie.

Cam Newton put in significant work on this skill during offseason

Cam Newton

After a rough 2020 season, it sounds like Cam Newton has spent the offseason getting back to basics in preparation for 2021.

According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Newton quietly spent the offseason rebuilding some fundamentals with the help of a throwing coach. The work appears to have paid dividends, as some players who also played with the New England Patriots quarterback last season noticed a difference during voluntary workouts last week.

Newton completed 65.8 percent of his pass attempts in 2020, but only racked up 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns. Part of that came down to a lack of weapons and a more conservative gameplan, though that second factor may have been in response to Newton’s issues, not a cause of them.

The veteran quarterback will have to fend off rookie Mac Jones if he wants to keep the Patriots’ starting job. He’s named one reason he thinks he could be better this year, and if this work pays off, he might end up fairly well-positioned to start again.

Julio Jones reportedly interested in playing with this quarterback?

Julio Jones

It’s clear that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones is very much on the trade market, though no clear suitor has emerged yet. One report indicates, however, that Jones might have a destination in mind.

Michael Holley of NBC Sports Boston said on “Boston Sports Tonight” that Jones is interested in playing with New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.

“You know who (Jones) really wants to play with? … He wants to play with Cam Newton. He likes Cam,” Holley said, via Darren Hartwell of of NBC Sports Boston. “That’s the other thing: He thinks Matt Ryan has lost a little zing on his deep ball.”

Jones knows Newton well from their battles in the NFC South when Newton was starring for the Carolina Panthers. That said, it’s an interesting stance, especially if Jones believes Ryan’s arm isn’t what it used to be. Newton has looked like a shell of his former self in the past few years too.

The Patriots have been intriguingly linked to a Jones trade, along with several other teams. Jones doesn’t really have any control over where he’s traded to, so if he really wants to play with Newton, he’ll have to hope New England steps up to the plate with the best offer.

Photo: Lisa Ferdinando/U.S. Secretary of Defense via CC-BY 2.0

Patriots confident in Cam Newton heading into season?

Cam Newton

Several analysts have predicted recently that the New England Patriots will be aggressive in trying to land one of the top quarterbacks in the draft, but Bill Belichick may be more comfortable with the team’s current QB situation than many believe.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Thursday that the Patriots are still in the quarterback market, but he made it a point to note that they believe Cam Newton will be better in 2021 than he was last season. Newton signed with New England late in what was already an unusual offseason due to the pandemic. He then tested positive for COVID-19 and missed some valuable time during the regular season.

“They believe Cam Newton will get a better, fairer shake this season over last season, which I think might reduce some of the urgency,” Schefter said, via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable. “I still think they are in the quarterback market. If they can get the right guy at the right (price) they certainly would.”

It’s also worth noting that Newton had arguably the worst supporting cast in football last year. The Patriots have signed the two top tight ends on the market in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. They also added starting-caliber wide receivers by signing Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. It would make sense if Belichick wants to see what Newton can do with some actual weapons and a full offseason.

Schefter went on to note that Belichick has never traded up in the draft for a quarterback. He has only traded up four times in total. Of course, it was never really necessary to trade up for a QB with Tom Brady leading the way.

A report last month claimed the Patriots do not view Newton as their starter. We also know that they have kept their eye on one specific veteran QB, so they probably feel Newton is plan 1B. If they thought he had no good football left in him, they would not have brought him back.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Robert Kraft weighs in on Cam Newton’s 2020 season

Cam Newton

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft isn’t holding the 2020 season against Cam Newton.

Kraft said Wednesday there were a number of reasons for Newton’s underwhelming 2020. Specifically, he cited Newton’s bout with COVID-19, as well as his lack of weapons on offense.

Kraft’s assessment of Newton is widely accepted by a lot of others. It was hard for Newton to create offense with what he had around him. Plus, by his own admission, acclimating to a new offense under the circumstances he dealt with was a huge challenge that he never really conquered.

The Patriots brought Newton back after he threw for eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2020. Despite this, there’s some chatter he might have to work for the job.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Patriots do not view Cam Newton as their starting QB for 2021?

Cam Newton

The New England Patriots have made an effort to improve their offense by signing several key playmakers, but many wonder if those additions will matter with Cam Newton returning as the team’s starting quarterback. Of course, it is possible that Newton is not returning as the team’s starting quarterback.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini said on “Get Up!” Thursday morning that she has spoken with people who do not believe the Patriots are set on Newton as their starter. She said there is a sense around NFL circles that Newton is not Plan A for Bill Belichick.

“His contract tells you how they feel about him,” Russini said, via 98.5 The Sports Hub. “They don’t think he’s the future of the New England Patriots.”

Russini added that Belichick greatly respects Newton and that the former MVP has impressed the team with his work ethic. However, Newton did nothing in 2020 to prove he is still capable of playing at a high level.

“This is a guy who has been an elite quarterback and is no longer elite, and I think he’s done a really good job of playing the game with Bill Belichick,” Russini added. “We hear nothing but great compliments. It seems like it just works.

“But in terms of playing — because that’s what this is going to come down to at the end of the day, everyone can like each other and get along and [sing] ‘Kumbaya,’ but he’s got to go out there and perform.”

Newton had trouble finding a starting job last offseason, which is why he signed with the Patriots so late. He then went out and had 2,657 passing yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. It would stand to reason that no teams would have been interested in Newton as a starter heading into 2021, which is probably why he re-signed with New England so quickly.

The way Newton reacted to all of the Patriots’ free agent signings makes it seem like he believes he’s the team’s starter, but he’ll almost certainly have to compete for the job. If New England swings a big trade or drafts a quarterback early, the odds will be stacked against him.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Cam Newton seemingly reacts to Patriots’ huge free agent signings

Cam Newton

The New England Patriots have been by far the most aggressive team since the legal tampering period of free agency began on Monday, and Cam Newton likes what he has seen.

Newton, who recently re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal, shared an Instagram post on Tuesday morning that appeared to be related to the team’s big free agent moves. He shared a simple message in his token font, which we did our best to translate.

“WHEN YOU REALIZE THINGS ARE ALREADY DIFFERENT…… the second go around!!” Newton wrote.

The Patriots could draft a quarterback early or acquire a veteran, which would likely mean Newton has to compete for the starting job. The fact that Bill Belichick chose to re-sign him is a good indication that the coach believes Newton was not given a fair shot last year because of his poor supporting cast. Now that the Patriots have signed the top two tight ends on the free agent market and added a couple of receivers, Newton is in more of a position to succeed.

Any quarterback in Newton’s situation would be excited about the moves the Patriots have made. If you want to know how unusual the spending spree is for them, this stat should give you an idea. Newton knows he has a much better chance to prove himself this offseason than he did a year ago.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Does Cam Newton signing mean Patriots are out of QB market?

Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have re-signed Cam Newton on a one-year deal, but does that mean they believe he will be their starting quarterback come Week 1 next season?

Not necessarily.

Newton’s new contract is worth up to $14 million, but it is loaded with incentives like the deal he signed last offseason. At least from a financial standpoint, the Patriots are in no way saying the former MVP is guaranteed a starting job. Both ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Michael Giardi said New England’s decision to bring back Newton does not mean they will bow out of the quarterback market.

Most Patriots fans are unhappy with the idea of Newton as the team’s starting QB again next season. The 31-year-old had just 2,657 yards passing, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions last season. It looked like his surgically repaired shoulder may have been an issue, and Newton did very little to prove he is still capable of winning games in the NFL.

The thinking from Bill Belichick is probably that Newton knows the offense and is relatively inexpensive. Newton likely knows that the team will either draft a quarterback or acquire another veteran to compete with him in training camp.

Belichick reportedly has another team’s quarterback at the top of his wish list, but it is highly unlikely the Patriots will land that player. For now, Newton provides some security and a potential bridge option, albeit one with an extremely low ceiling.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.