Cam Newton
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Will Cam Newton Become Relevant Again in 2021?

After a year that looked like it could be the beginning of the end for the great New England Patriots Dynasty, Cam Newton will look to improve on a subpar season (to put it mildly) after being re-signed to a one year, 14 million dollar contract.

2020 was not an easy season for any team. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, franchises were forced to navigate unprecedented territory to comply with regulations and protect players and staff. On top of that, the Patriots had to try and replace Tom Brady, the prolific New England quarterback that brought the franchise six Superbowl victories. With Brady’s departure to Tampa, Bill Belichick needed to look for options at the quarterback position.

They proceeded to sign Cam Newton, who had just come off a season in which he had started only two games due to injury. While Newton had undoubtedly been a top-tier quarterback for a few seasons, it seemed that the magic simply wasn’t there in 2020. Newton would throw for 2600 yards, 8 touchdowns and 10 interceptions (as well as 12 rushing touchdowns) as the starter for a dysfunctional New England offence, finishing with a 7-8 in his 15 games. For many, including myself, it came as a massive surprise that Coach Belichick not only decided to re-sign Newton, but also to give him a relatively substantial pay raise.

The Patriots have had a busy free-agency period so far, shelling out 194.5 million dollars in contracts on the very first day, per Jeff Howe.

The Patriots seem to have a vested interest in addressing their offensive woes. On top of Newton, the Patriots signed Trent Brown, Jonnu Smith, Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry; all proven play makers. But will these signings be enough to make Cam Newton relevant again? Will he regain his former glory?

One of the biggest issues last year (the main thing that the Newton-friendly Patriots fans are quick to jump too) was the lack of explosive playmakers on offence. It was no secret that the Patriots were not exactly set in terms of pass-catchers.

While none of their free-agent signings necessarily jump of the page, they are huge improvements. Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry could turn out to be one of the very best tight end duos in football. While neither of them are “elite”, together they could combine to be a huge strength for the Patriots this season. After all, this formula has worked for New England in the past and is somewhat reminiscent of the Hernandez-Gronkowski days (though I hope it does not turn out EXACTLY the same way). A strong tight end group is a quarterback’s best friend. the position can bring much-needed consistency to an offence that desperately needs it.

In terms of wide receivers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne are coming off of the best seasons of both of their careers, combining for 97 catches, 1500 yards and 10 touchdowns. While I don’t think anybody would consider either of them to be true number one receivers, they could be very effective together, much the Smith and Henry.

In terms of the offensive line, the outlook is not nearly as positive. While New England did get Trent Brown, they have traded away Marcus Cannon, and it seems as though David Andrews is looking to leave Foxborough as well. There will be a few new faces on the Patriots offensive line come the fall. That being said, offensive lines are made great not by their individual parts, but how they move as a unit. Cohesion is very difficult to judge in the offseason, and for that reason, we could see a very good group despite the losses of Cannon and Andrews. While the pass-catching situation is a little bit easier to judge, I would argue that the offensive line is up in the air at the moment.

Newton had his fair share of issues in 2020. He struggled with turnovers and good decision making in general. At this point, the question is a difficult one to answer: how much of the Patriots’ offensive dysfunction was because of Cam, and how much of it was because of other factors? I think that short is answer is it was a little bit of both. Newton will have to improve on his personal play in 2021 if the New England Patriots are to get back into the playoffs, but it seems that Coach Bill is definitely trying to make it easier on him. The good news is that this year the answer to that question (if the Patriots’ offence continues to be dysfunctional, that is) will be much easier to answer. The ball is essentially in Newton’s court. He now has viable offensive pieces. If he continues to play poorly, it is on him at this point.

What is in store for Cam Newton and the New England Patriots in 2021? Only time will tell.