Why Patriots’ Cam Newton Believes He Still Deserves NFL Starting Job

'Do I want to be a backup? Hell, no'

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Even after his lackluster 2020 season, Cam Newton still believes he’s one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the world.

The New England Patriots signal-caller made that clear Monday when asked during an appearance on WEEI’s “Greg Hill Show” whether he would accept a backup job in New England or elsewhere next season.

Newton’s one-year Patriots contract is set to expire in March.

?When I look at the whole situation, if you?re asking me, ?Do I want to be a backup?? Hell no,” Newton said. “Because when I look at other teams and I?m looking at other players play, there?s been guys that have been getting away with, I feel, murder for years for subpar play. Do I have the right to say that with the year that I had this year? No. But I?m going to be honest and say it, because that?s what I do.

“So if you?re asking me if I?m better than another person, if you give me the name, I probably won?t say it now because I know it?s going to be on some type of blog or whatever. ? But at the same time, when you?re asking me, when I?m going throughout this process again and (you’re) saying, ?OK, would you do this?’ I?m going to say, ?Do you see that?? It?s just going to go down like that.”

Newton ranked fourth in the NFL in rushing touchdowns this season with 12 and set a new franchise record for rushing yards by a QB with 592. As a passer, though, he ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every category, including 28th in passer rating, 34th in touchdown passes and 27th in interception rate.

Three of Newton’s eight touchdown passes came in Sunday’s Week 17 win over the New York Jets.

In recent weeks, Newton has pointed to his late arrival in New England (he signed in July) as a contributing factor in his pass-game struggles. On Monday, he also noted that many of the Patriots’ wide receivers and tight ends were thrust into larger roles than they were accustomed to in 2020, especially after veteran wideout Julian Edelman was lost for the year.

?The inability to communicate is a slept-on art that is needed,” Newton said on WEEI. “… Half of (the Patriots’ pass-catchers) weren?t even in a position that they were in this year, last year. You know? And I wasn?t even here last year.”

Newton, who added New England “had enough talent in that locker room to win more games than we won,” believes his own skills were “devalued” by the media as the Patriots slogged through a 7-9 season, their worst since 2000.

?Honestly, it?s too early to tell, and that?s as honest as I can be,” Newton said on WEEI when asked about a potential backup role. “Do I think I have starting talent? Absolutely. Do I think a lot of things that I?ve done were devalued in — not the team?s perspective — probably the media?s perspective? Absolutely. Do people care about my feelings? Absolutely not.

“So it is what it is. I understand what profession I?m in. I understand that it?s heavily scrutinized and there?s only 32 of us. This is not for the weak-hearted, and I understand that. I just need some time to myself to really reevaluate this whole situation.?

Newton said he does plan to sign earlier this offseason than he did in 2020, saying he “put (himself) at a disadvantage with that.” The 31-year-old acknowledged he needs to improve his mechanics but expressed optimism after emerging from the season injury-free.

“I have a lot of ammunition in the barrel to get better this offseason, and that?s what I?m going to focus on doing,” Newton said on WEEI. “I have my health. This is probably the first healthy offseason that I?ve probably had in, shucks, about five, six years, and I?m going to make the most of it.

“I have to obviously work on my mechanics. I have to obviously throw the football sooner rather than the latter part of last year. It?s those things that I?m going to be focused on as we get geared up for the offseason.”

Newton said he and Patriots coach Bill Belichick have not discussed potentially re-signing for another season. Asked how he’d feel about remaining in New England if the opportunity presented itself, Newton replied: “Remarkable.”

Jarrett Stidham, Newton’s primary backup this season, is the only Patriots quarterback currently under contract for 2021.

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown (center), forward Semi Ojeleye (left) and center Tristan Thompson (right)
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