A former Patriots linebacker thinks Cam Newton will be buried on the depth chart.
The Patriots made the move of the offseason by signing Cam Newton to a one-year deal worth up to $7.5 million in incentives. The Patriots didn’t sign the former No. 1 overall pick and 2015 NFL MVP to ride the bench. However, former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich thinks the starting job won’t just be handed to the former Carolina Panthers quarterback.
Appearing on NFL Live, the former Super Bowl champion for the Patriots thinks Newton has a lot to learn before he earns the starting job. Despite the presence of the unproven Jarrett Stidham and veteran backup Brian Hoyer on the roster, Ninkovich thinks Newton will be the third-string quarterback to start. Yes, you read that right.
Ninkovich thinks Newton will be the Patriots third-string quarterback.
“He’s got to earn the starting position before he can win more games than Tom Brady,” Ninkovich said. “Look, the Patriots aren’t going to just make him the starting quarterback instantly. His contract that he signed is basically coming in, ‘hey look. Earn it.’ … He might be the third-string quarterback when he comes in. He might be behind Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Look, they’re going to test him physically and mentally. They’re going to say, ‘come in here. You’re new to this system. You’re new to this building. You have to come out here and earn the trust of everybody in the locker room.’ Earn the trust of your teammates, and see how he reacts to that. Put him in at third string and he’s pouting around and doesn’t take hold of the reins and grab leadership roles. You don’t know how people are going to react. The Patriots are going to put people through tests.”
Some of what Ninkovich makes sense some of it is complete lunacy.
Of course, nothing is handed to players in the NFL. Even first round picks and high-priced free agents have to earn their jobs, even if they aren’t in hotly-contested position battles. Of course, Newton will have a learning curve as he picks up Josh McDaniels’ playbook and develops relationships with his new teammates. Of course, Bill Belichick will want to see Newton assert himself as a leader.
But there’s no chance that Stidham and Hoyer will keep Newton on the bench or buried on a depth chart when the games actually matter. It’s one thing for Newton to be brought along slowly in his first few days in training camp, especially one in a pandemic and on-field sessions and in-person visits are limited. It’s a completely different thing to anticipate Belichick signing Newton and then have him hold a clipboard all season, barring some sort of serious injury.
Yes, the Patriots will test him but Stidham and Hoyer aren’t serious considerations any longer to start for the Patriots.