Stephen A. Smith doesn’t necessarily think the Patriots should re-sign Cam Newton this offseason.
But, as Smith explained Monday on ESPN’s “First Take,” he also wouldn’t be surprised if New England brought back the veteran quarterback for the 2021 NFL campaign.
“I don’t think it’s one-and-done, because I’m trying to figure out what assets the New England Patriots have available to get the quarterback that they need,” Smith said. “And I’m combining that with the lack of suitors that’s going to be out there for Cam Newton.”
Newton might not have the most robust market in free agency after an underwhelming 2020 with New England. The 31-year-old struggled as a passer to the point where it’s fair to wonder whether he’ll land another starting job in the NFL.
That said, the Patriots clearly liked what Newton brought to the table from a leadership standpoint. So perhaps we shouldn’t completely rule out the Patriots re-signing the 2015 NFL MVP in the hopes that his second season in Foxboro goes much smoother.
“I saw Bill Belichick displaying a level of understanding, of patience and empathy towards a player, that I have never witnessed — through the eyes, I never saw that from Bill Belichick before,” Smith said. “So when I saw that with Cam Newton, as Cam Newton sat on the bench and Bill Belichick elected to bench him and things of that nature, I just saw a level of understanding and patience.”
Newton, who signed to a one-year contract last offseason after his release from the Carolina Panthers, certainly had the deck stacked against him. Not only was he asked to replace Tom Brady, a near impossible task. But New England also had a bunch of COVID-19-related opt-outs, and Newton didn’t join the Patriots until late in a truncated NFL offseason.
It didn’t help, either, that Newton tested positive for the coronavirus during the season, a development that seemed to throw him and the Patriots’ offense out of whack.
“I think (Belichick) actually wants to give Cam Newton a second go-round at all of this. I could be wrong, because I’m not reporting on the team, I’m not in Boston; they are. But that’s just the sense that I get,” Smith said. “And it would not shock me if I ended up seeing Cam Newton back in New England next season.
“I don’t think it’s the right move, because I think Cam Newton needs weapons. And he don’t have them in N’Keal Harry and others. But I do think that Bill Belichick is inclined to keep him onboard for some reason.”
Smith isn’t alone in thinking this, as others, including ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson, have wondered whether the Patriots will bring back Newton amid their quarterback uncertainty.