After being cut by the Panthers in March, Cam Newton spent more than three months as a free agent before he was finally able to land a deal with the Patriots this week. One reason that Newton was available for so long is because he's been battling injuries over the past two years and teams just weren't sure if he had fully recovered.
Despite injuries to his shoulder and foot, one person who is absolutely convinced that Newton will be fine to play in 2020 is Shaq Thompson, his former teammate with the Panthers. The two players spent five seasons together in Carolina, and from Thompson's point of view, the Patriots got an absolute steal with Newton. According to Thompson, Newton is an "MVP quarterback" who "still has it."
"Man, I was happy for Cam," Thompson said of Newton's signing during an appearance on NFL Total Access this week, via NFL.com. "I hated that it took so long for him to get signed. He's an MVP quarterback. Cam still has it. And I'm happy for him, I'm glad the Patriots invested in him and I can't wait to see Cam Newton come out there and play."
If Cam does "still have it," then the the Patriots might just pulled off the best bargain of free agency. Although Newton's contract will pay him up to $7.5 million, it only includes $550,000 in guaranteed money, so there's little risk for the Patriots. The only way Newton is going to earn every dollar in his contract is if he earns the starting job and plays well. For Newton, some of the money will be easy to earn: The 2015 NFL MVP can earn up to $700,000 in per game roster bonuses, but the rest of the money -- $5.75 million -- can only be earned through on field incentives.
Oddsmakers seem to think Newton might earn those incentives because his MVP odds jumped from 100-1 to 40-1 after his signing with the Patriots was announced.
As for Thompson, although he's rooting for Newton to succeed, he's also going to be cheering for another quarterback to succeed in 2020 and that QB is Teddy Bridgewater. After watching Bridgewater go undefeated in five starts with the Saints last year, Thompson is excited to see what the former New Orleans quarterback can bring to the Panthers offense.
"I think Teddy's definitely going to come in and change the offense. He has great weapons," Thompson said. "His start with the Saints, 5-0, was just incredible. It just shows you that the Teddy that Minnesota had drafted back then is back. I'm happy to see that. I've always been a fan of Teddy, especially when he was at Louisville. So, I'm happy to have him as a teammate. I know that he has a lot of tremendous weapons around him and we built that offensive line so he could feel comfortable in the pocket."
There's actually a chance that Thompson will get to see bother quarterbacks in action on the field in August, and that's because the Panthers and Patriots could end up playing each other in the preseason. Although Week 1 and Week 4 of the preseason have both been canceled, the two teams are scheduled to play each other in Week 2, so it's a game that could still happen. The NFL is expected to announce a reshuffled preseason schedule at some point in the near future.