The quarterback struggled throughout 2020, a season in which the Patriots finished 7-9, and it’s fair to wonder whether he has anything left in the tank ahead of his age-31 campaign.
Nick Wright believes Newton’s return actually helps New England’s free agency pitch, though, and perhaps we shouldn’t rule out the Patriots making a splash on the trade market, as well.
Wright during Friday’s episode of “First Things First” on FS1 wondered whether Newton’s deal could be a precursor to the Patriots trading for Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
“About nine months ago, when Cam Newton signed with the Patriots, who does he sit down and do a podcast with, extolling the virtues of Bill Belichick and Patriot Way? Odell Beckham Jr. — and Victor Cruz and Todd Gurley,” Wright said. “Brandon Marshall, what did you teach me (Thursday)? What can Bill Belichick not do? Draft receivers. So, you’ve got these draft picks, you’ve got this cap space, Cam and Odell have a relationship. You call up Cleveland to make the move.
“And I do know for a fact that when Odell was hearing he might be traded from the Giants, the Patriots were the No. 1 team he wanted to go to. Now, it didn’t happen and Tom Brady left. But he has already thought about playing there before. Cam’s his guy.”
Of course, this is purely speculation, although people have been connecting OBJ to the Patriots in trade rumors for years. That said, New England has the financial flexibility to absorb Beckham’s contract, so perhaps it’s something Bill Belichick will consider while trying to build up the offense around Newton.
The Patriots desperately need playmakers, and Newton’s success in his second season with New England could depend on what other pieces the organization adds in the coming weeks and months. NFL free agency kicks off next week, and as Wright mentioned, the Pats have ample salary cap space with which to retool their roster.
OBJ to New England long has been a dream scenario. Perhaps the stars finally will align in 2021.