The decision to sign Cam Newton was not a rash one for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
The way Belichick tells it, the Patriots spent a while talking to Newton and people close to the quarterback before electing to sign the 2015 NFL MVP.
“Things worked out,” Belichick said Friday in a video conference call with the media. “We spent quite a bit of time with Cam. He spent quite a bit of time with us. I think there was some mutual interest. We spent quite a bit of — a number of different people and a number of different conversations. Just trying to see how the fit would be. It was very positive on our end. I’m glad it worked out.”
Belichick isn’t ready to name Newton the Patriots’ QB1 to start the season, however. The Patriots also have Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham and rookie Brian Lewerke on their quarterback depth chart. Stidham and Hoyer also could battle for the top role this summer in training camp, which officially kicks off Aug. 12, though Patriots players will report to the facility this weekend.
“That spot’s the same as all of the other spots on the team,” Belichick said. “We’ve got a long way to go and we’ll see how things turn out. I can’t control how players perform. That’s up to them. We’ll give everyone an opportunity and see what happens. I don’t know.”
The Patriots elected to sign Newton in late June. That was after the NFL’s offseason workout program, when organized team activities and minicamp usually are held. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, players only took part in virtual meetings. The Patriots didn’t get to see how Stidham had progressed over the spring. Belichick said that didn’t play a role in the decision to sign Newton.
“Yeah, I don’t know. It wasn’t that way, so I don’t know if it had been different if it would have happened differently,” Belichick said. “I don’t know. I don’t see why it would have, but I’m not sure.”
It’s been assumed that the Patriots will have to restructure their offensive system if Newton wins the job because of his mobility and different skill set than Stidham, Hoyer or former starter Tom Brady. Belichick said that decision will come at a later date and would be dictated by all position groups. The Patriots will be focusing on fundamentals and the basics early in training camp.