Cam Newton walked into one of the toughest environments last offseason, signing with the Patriots right after Tom Brady walked out on the franchise.
Brady, of course, had taken the Patriots to the top of the NFL world during his 20 years there, winning six Super Bowls while cementing the Pats as perhaps the greatest modern-day dynasty in sports.
His departure was crushing for the franchise, emotionally, and in terms of the void he left at the game’s most important position. Following him up was going to be a tough task as whoever stepped up to the helm next would instantly be compared to Brady, no matter how good they were.
New #Patriots starting QB Cam Newton waited until the summer to sign, healing and biding his time. He landed in New England and promptly won the starting job. He’s officially Tom Brady’s successor.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 3, 2020
Cam, however, had no other options apparently, and he didn’t care that he would have to live up to the NFL GOAT. He knew that this was the best path for his career.
Cam Newton Knew He Was In A Tough Time Trying To Follow Up Tom Brady
After Brady left for the Buccaneers, the Patriots were pretty thin at the quarterback position. They had second year quarterback Jarrett Stidham on the roster, but he was largely unproven, and they also had Brian Hoyer, who was fine as a backup, but definitely not a starting-level quarterback.
So, when the opportunity presented itself to bring in a low-risk, high-reward player like Cam Newton, the Pats jumped on it. They didn’t break the bank to sign the former MVP, but they gave him a shot to prove himself, adding in incentives in his contract to increase the total value if Newton played well.
Newton’s first couple games went well, as he led the Pats to a win in the season opener, showing off his rushing ability, and then he followed that up with nearly 400 passing yards in a thrilling showdown against the Seattle Seahawks in week two.
However, luck ran out as Newton contracted Covid-19, after which he really wasn’t the same as he fell behind in the plans the offense had and catching up was difficult. Many believed that Newton should have signed somewhere else, but after Carolina released him, he didn’t really have any other options.
Newton explained that the Panthers were going in a different direction, and they didn’t really see him in their long terms plans, and as a result, New England stood out to him in the fact that they were willing to take a chance on him. Newton spoke about this in February of this year on Brandon Marshall’s ‘I Am Athlete’ podcast. You can watch the entire episode here, and Newton talks about his decision at about the 22:20 mark:
Newton is getting one more chance to prove himself as the Pats brought him back on another incentive-laden contract, but the pressure is on with rookie Mac Jones right on his heels.