AFC coach says Patriots ‘love’ Jarrett Stidham, could start him over Cam Newton
Many feel that the New England Patriots reestablished themselves as the strongest team in the AFC East when they signed Cam Newton on Sunday, but one rival coach seems to think there’s a chance Newton won’t even enter the season as a starting quarterback.
ESPN’s Dianna Russini said Wednesday that she spoke with an AFC East head coach who does not think Newton will have a strong enough grasp of New England’s offense to start in Week 1. The coach also said he knows for a fact that the Patriots “love” Jarrett Stidham.
I spoke over text w/ an AFC East Head Coach on Cam Newton and the Patriots. “I think they are going to keep 3 QBs. Use Cam Newton perhaps as the wild card. I actually don't see him starting Week 1 in the offense…I know one thing for a fact: the #Patriots love Jarrett Stidham"
— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) July 1, 2020
It seems unlikely that Newton would have signed with the Patriots if he was not given assurances he would be able to compete for a starting job. While New England was reportedly the only team to make him an offer, that was probably the result of Newton’s camp telling teams the former NFL MVP does not want to sign somewhere and be locked into a backup role.
Still, it would not be a shock if Bill Belichick is planning to give Stidham a fair shot. With the offseason already being shortened, Newton will have far less time to learn New England’s offense. He’s also coming off foot surgery, so there are questions about his health. Stidham is in his second year with the Patriots and had a full season to learn under Tom Brady as a rookie.
Judging by the excitement Julian Edelman shared on social media, our best guess would be that Newton is going to start if he’s healthy. That doesn’t mean the Patriots are ready to give up on Stidham, however. The former Auburn star is just 23, and Newton is only signed for one year. While New England will have the option of keeping Newton on the roster in 2021, it’s possible they still envision Stidham being their quarterback of the future.