For much of the offseason, it didn't appear the New England Patriots were going to add a former MVP quarterback to replace Tom Brady. But in the end, not only did the Pats find a successor to Brady who's an ex-MVP, Cam Newton is an ex-MVP who's still considered in the prime age of his career.
New England agreed with Newton on a one-year deal Sunday, as the 2015 NFL MVP found a new franchise to play for after being unemployed for three months -- a long time for a former MVP quarterback to still be on the market.
When the Patriots signed Newton, they became the first NFL franchise to lose an MVP quarterback in free agency and sign a former MVP quarterback in free agency (per NFL Research). They aren't, however, the first franchise to lose one former MVP in an offseason and sign a former MVP in the same offseason.
Here's a look at all the times a franchise lost a former MVP in one offseason and signed another former MVP. We'll take a look at the stats from that player's MVP season and their numbers the year they left their former team, along with what they did the first year they signed with their new team:
2020: New England Patriots
Cam Newton (offseason addition)
Newton won the NFL MVP in 2015 when he led the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record and an appearance in Super Bowl 50, completing 59.8% of his passes for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns to 10 interceptions (99.4 passer rating) while rushing for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. In 2019, his final season with Carolina, Newton completed just 56.2% of his passes for 572 yards with no touchdowns and an interception in just two games (rushing for minus-2 yards on two carries). He was lost for the season with a pedal LisFranc sprain.
Tom Brady (offseason loss)
Brady won the NFL MVP award three times in his career with the Patriots, in 2007, 2010, and 2017. His last MVP came at the age of 40, when Brady led the NFL with 4,577 passing yards while throwing for 32 touchdowns and eight interceptions (102.8 passer rating). Brady set a then single-season record in 2007 with 50 touchdown passes when he won his first MVP award, leading the league in completion percentage (68.9), yards (4,806) and passer rating (117.2). In his MVP season of 2010, Brady threw for 3,900 yards and led the league with 36 touchdown passes and a 11.0 passer rating.
Brady threw for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions last season with the Patriots, but his passer rating (88.0) was in the 80s for the first time since 2013 and his yards per game (253.6) was his lowest since 2010 (243.8). He was also 42 yards old.
2005: Arizona Cardinals
Kurt Warner (offseason addition)
The Cardinals landed the two-time former MVP in Warner, a signing that resurrected his career and solidified his Hall of Fame resume. When Warner won the MVP with the St. Louis Rams in 1999, he led the NFL in completion percentage (65.1), touchdown passes (41) and quarterback rating (109.2) in leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl title (winning game MVP honors). His second MVP award came in 2001, when he led the league in completion percentage (68.7), passing yards (4,830), touchdowns passes (36) and passer rating (101.4).
In Warner's only season with the New York Giants (he signed with the team in 2004 after he was released from the Rams), he completed 62.8% of his passes for 2,054 yards while throwing for six touchdowns to four interceptions in nine starts (86.5 rating). Warner was 33 years old when he signed with Arizona.
Emmitt Smith (offseason loss)
Smith won his MVP award in 1993, a decade before he signed with Arizona. He led the NFL with 1,486 yards and in yards per carry (5.3) in just 14 games. After an 0-2 start (both games Smith missed due to a contract holdout), the Cowboys went 12-2 in the games Smith played. Smith ran for 280 yards and three touchdowns in the postseason as Dallas won its second consecutive Super Bowl title.
Smith retired after the 2004 season with the Cardinals, a season which he finished with 937 yards and nine touchdowns (averaging 3.5 yards per carry) at 35 years old.
2000: Miami Dolphins
Thurman Thomas (offseason addition)
The Dolphins signed Thomas to be their No. 2 running back after 12 seasons with the Buffalo Bills, winning the MVP award with his former franchise in 1991. In that season, Thomas rushed for 1,407 yards and seven touchdowns in 15 games, leading the league with 4.9 yards per carry. He also had 62 catches for 631 yards and recorded five touchdown catches, leading the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 2,038.
Thomas was 34 years old in 2000 and only rushed for 136 yards on 28 carries (4.9 yards per carry) in nine games. He retired after that season.
Dan Marino (offseason loss)
Marino retired after the 1999 season as the NFL's all-time passing leader in yards and touchdowns. He won the NFL MVP in 1984 after shattering the league record book, becoming the first 5,000-yard passer (5,084) and throwing for 48 touchdowns -- which wouldn't be topped for 20 years.
In Marino's final season, he completed just 55.3% of his passes for 2,448 yards, 12 touchdowns and 17 interceptions (67.4 rating) as the Dolphins went just 5-6 in his 11 starts (he was 38 years old). While Marino led the Dolphins to a playoff win, he threw for just 95 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions in his final game -- a 62-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.