Former Patriots LB on Cam Newton: 'He might be the third-string quarterback when he comes in'
The big news in the NFL world recently was the New England Patriots signing former Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton.
He’ll join the Patriots to compete with another former Auburn quarterback, Jarrett Stidham, for the starting job entering the 2020 season.
However, not everyone thinks Newton will be a shoo-in for the starting job. Appearing on NFL Live this week, former Patriots LB Rob Ninkovich said it’ll be an open competition for the spot (via 247Sports):
“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.
“They’re going to test you physically, mentally. How do you respond to certain situations? Cam has never been in a spot where he had to fight for a starting role. Now he’s going to go into a competition. Competition brings out the best in every player on that roster. He is not a first-round pick anymore. He’s not a highly-guaranteed money player anymore. He’s coming in to compete, and we’ll see what happens. He first has to earn the starting job.”
Newton was the NFL MVP as recently as 2015, though, so if he’s healthy, he could be a big-time talent for the Pats. We’ll have to see how he looks when teams can return to practice, though.