How does Cam Newton signing in New England change the landscape of the 2021 NFL Draft?
Leading up to the start of the season it was heavily believed that the New England Patriots could be tanking for the 2021 NFL Draft, trying to get the top pick to select their quarterback of the future in Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields maybe even Trey Lance. However, now that Cam Newton has signed with the Patriots, that has all changed.
Newton will change the landscape of the Patriots offense this season and alter the way most players on the roster will perform. However, the impact of the deal will reach far beyond just this year’s Patriots roster, despite being just a one-year deal. The effects will play into the 2021 NFL Draft, the 2022 NFL Draft, free agency, and the playoffs this coming season.
For starters, New England is starting to look like the team to beat in the AFC East once again. Yes, a single player can do that. If you don’t believe me, Tom Brady had the same impact in Tampa Bay. The Patriots always had the pieces, but the most important piece was such a big question mark that there was a lot of concern. Now with a former MVP back under center, the Patriots have all the tools to be a top contender in the AFC this coming season.
Having all the tools means that the team as a whole will also be more accountable. Before it would have been easy to blame any shortcomings on Jarrett Stidham, but now with Newton that won’t be as easy. When healthy, he’s still a top player at his position. Players like Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu will have more on their shoulders than they have had in previous seasons.
Everyone knew what Tom Brady could do, but with so many question marks around Newton and the Patriots, blame could fall to other players while some try to justify Newton’s success, or failures, with the team to build his case moving forward.
With more accountability and eventual wins also comes their draft position. If the Patriots win, which with this roster it looks like they will, they shouldn’t be anywhere near the top half of the draft. That essentially means that Lawrence, Fields, or Lance are out of the picture barring a trade.
For teams like the Bears, Jaguars or Redskins that could also be at the top of the class the signing is great news. Newton pretty much puts the Patriots out of the picture for all the top quarterbacks, which means those teams have a better chance of landing the prospect of their choice.
Even though there was the rumor of tanking in New England, Newton pretty much put that to rest as well as the idea of any of the aforementioned quarterbacks being the replacement to Tom Brady with a buffer year in-between, similar to the transition in Indianapolis from Peyton Manning to Andrew Luck.
It also works out well for the Patriots no matter what. If Newton pans out for them then they will have a successful season. If not, then they land a solid draft pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. The same goes for his one-year contract. Should Newton return after one year then they have a long-term answer at quarterback.
If not, then as Adam Schefter pointed out, Newton will most likely turn into a high 2022 compensatory pick, replacing the 2021 third-rounder they lost just hours before signing Newton.
When it’s all said and done, Newton and New England was a signing waiting to happen that everyone saw coming, it was just a matter of time before it finally happened. Now that it has happened, everyone can fully invest in what the next season will look like with Newton under center for the Patriots.
As for the 2021 NFL Draft, the Patriots won’t be in the running for Lawrence or Fields as previously thought, which opens the door at the top of the draft for more trades as teams become desperate to land one of the top quarterback prospects in next year’s class.
I mean, when it comes down to it, would you rather roll the dice on Trevor Lawrence or sign a seasoned vet in Cam Newton? Sure, Trevor Lawrence could be great, but there’s a risk he could be a bust as well. Whereas, Cam Newton is on a short, inexpensive deal and puts a former MVP on the field in New England once again, which sounds like the exact move Bill Belichick would make.