Deep Dive: Cam Newton - New England Patriots QB
DEEP DIVE: CAM NEWTON
There is enough doubt over Cam's health that his cost is not high enough to outweigh his top 4 QB upside. There appears little risk Newton doesn't play much this year, and his upside is sky-high with the best combination of o-line and play-calling (Josh McDaniels) of his career.
Because quarterback points are so readily available, you can take the swing on Newton’s ceiling and have a safety net to stream the position should his health or rushing ability be compromised.
If Cam Newton averages career worsts this season (assuming healthy all season) in rushing yards, rushing TDs, passing TDs, passing yards, and INTs, he would score 268.5 fantasy points. That would be good for 9th QB overall last season, right in front of Aaron Rodgers. - link
Per Scott Barrett (Fantasy Points), Cam Newton averaged 8.4 fantasy points over his last 4 starts. In the 25 starts before that, he averaged 22.3 fantasy points per game. Only Lamar Jackson averaged >22.3 FPG last year. Prior to last season, Newton finished top-5 in FPG in 5/8 seasons and top-7 in 7/8 seasons. - link
AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION (ADP)
The best part? Cam Newton is going to be essentially free.
His downside is the same as Sam Darnold: you cut him and move on. This is where investing cheaply in quarterbacks pays off. He is currently being drafted as the 14th QB of the board, one spot ahead of Kirk Cousins.
Cam Newton is 31 years old and turns 32 in May 2021.
1 year, $1.05m minimum base salary. Only $550k guaranteed at signing. Up to $6.45m in incentives/per-game roster bonuses of $700,000. And no clause restricting a 2021 franchise tag. Potential total: $7.5 million. - link
Cam's salary-cap charge is just $1.13 million in 2020.
The Patriots (who had $1.3 million of cap room), could sign Cam because of the NLTBE (Not likely to be earned) incentive structure. If an incentive is NLTBE, it is not counted on this year's cap and will only impact next year's if the incentive is reached.
An incentive is considered NLTBE based only on whether the criteria was met during the previous season. Because Cam was injured during the 2019 season and only played two games, the incentives easily meet the NLTBE criteria.
Newton will also be paid $2 million from the Panthers this season, the remainder due on his previous contract.
Prior to 2019, Newton had missed only five of 128 possible games since entering the league. - link
What makes Cam so special is his physicality and willingness to put his body in harm’s way. Over time that athletic boldness has resulted in a catalog of injuries, most recently including back-to-back surgeries on his throwing shoulder, and a foot injury that sidelined him for nearly the whole of last year. - link
Even though Newton technically went under the knife in early 2019, the procedure was a “clean-out” meant to take care of some scar tissue and that there “wasn’t anything structurally that needed to happen in the shoulder.” It is said that both of these surgeries were “very effective” and people should not be overly concerned about the shoulder becoming a recurrent issue. - link
The lisfranc sprain sustained by Newton in Week 2 of the 2019 preseason is more concerning than the shoulder injury. A lisfranc issue can be a “negative predictor” for on-field effectiveness and career length. The lisfranc ligament holds the bones of the foot in appropriate alignment. When it is completely ruptured, the alignment of the bones shifts. A surgery is performed to stabilize the ligament and line the bones back up. However, some athletes who then return to sport after rehabbing their surgery can again get widening of the bones, which would indicate that the surgical fixation has loosened up over time. If that’s the case — if a loosening up has occurred — those players are more likely to experience diminished longevity in the league. - link
But there is some good news. Newton’s lisfranc injury was of the “stable” variety; even though the ligament was damaged it didn’t completely rupture, which means the bones didn’t shift out of alignment. Since the nature of the injury was such that there wasn’t displacement to begin with, Cam’s rehab could be accelerated. Since the injury took place at the top of the 2019 season Cam has had time to rehab the issue. - link
Videos of recent workouts on social media have been viewed as encouraging, and he reportedly passed a physical in late May.
The current record-holder for the most career rushing touchdowns by a quarterback in the Super Bowl era (58), Newton burst onto the fantasy scene as a rookie, managing a top-three fantasy football finish in 2011. Since then he’s been a top-four producer in five of the last eight seasons and has never (except for 2019) fallen outside of the top-15 players at the position. - link
In 125 regular-season games with the Panthers, Newton completed 2,371 of his 3,980 passes for 29,041 yards with 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions. His 4,806 rushing yards are third in NFL history among quarterbacks. - link
Keep in mind that Newton had arguably his best season as a passer the last time he was healthy. During that 2018 campaign with the Carolina Panthers, Newton was more conservative (career-low 7.3 yards for average depth of throw), but that led to a career-high 68% completion percentage and a solid 7.2 YPA. Newton was still an effective rusher that season (488 yards and four touchdowns on 101 attempts in 14 games) and finished in the top eight in fantasy points per game for the seventh time in eight seasons. - link
The Carolina Panthers went 0-8 over Newton’s past eight starts with the team, averaging just 19.3 points per game. To be fair to Newton outside of pedestrian team point totals, seven of those eight losses were by a touchdown or fewer with four by three points or less. But despite completing 64.9% of his passes over those eight games, Newton averaged just 6.9 yards per pass attempt while throwing nine touchdowns to 10 interceptions in those games while combining to rush for 33 times for 144 yards and zero touchdowns. - link
Newton has finished higher than QB19 in passing points per game just once in his career (that MVP season), but has still finished as the QB13 or higher in fantasy points per game in every season outside of last year while finishing as the QB8 or higher in points per game in seven of the first eight seasons of his career because of what he accomplished with his legs. - link
Rushing output has made up at least 25% of Newton’s final fantasy total in every season of his career discounting 2019, so his health and rushing viability moving forward are vital given how little we have been able to count on him through the air over his career. - link
The Patriots' offensive line dealt with their fair share of injuries during the 2019 season, yet they still managed to be one of the better units in the league. The Patriots offensive line was ranked 10th by Pro Football Focus in 2019. In 2020, they look to return to their 2018 form as one of the best offensive lines. If most of the key players on the unit stay healthy, Newton could be working behind one of the best lines in the league.
The Patriots added a significant amount of depth along their O-line in recent offseasons. Yodny Cajuste, Hjalte Froholdt, Najee Toran, Korey Cunningham, Justin Herron, and Dustin Woodard have all been picked up either this year or last through the draft, trade, or free agency. - link
If New England can keep the starting fivesome of Wynn, Thuney, Andrews, Mason, and Cannon on the field for 16+ games, the Patriots should have one of the best offensive line units in the entire NFL — even despite the fact they lost legendary coach Dante Scarnecchia to retirement. - link
The Patriots picked former assistant coaches Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo in a joint role to help replace one of the best offensive line coaches the league has ever seen. - link
Josh McDaniels is ready to run. Moves including the Newton signing, the league's heaviest financial investment in the guard position, and a pair of third-round draft picks spent on tight ends make this team set to run the ball.
The Patriots added pieces to give themselves versatility to switch into different formations at the line of scrimmage without changing personnel. Two big WR's (M. Sanu and N. Harry) who can block well, three big TE's (Vitale, Keane, and Asiasi), a stable full of RB's (Michel, Burkhead, White, and Harris), and one of the best o-lines in the league.
The offense is suited for what will likely be a run-first offense behind heavy personnel packages complemented by a top defense. Ball control will be the name of the game.
From a fantasy standpoint, it’s difficult to know what Cam Newton’s dynasty value is now that he’s finally on a team. If you’ve held him this long, then odds are that you’re not looking to trade him away just yet. He could be a league winner, especially in SuperFlex leagues, if he’s even 80% of what he used to be. However, he also has a chance of never really catching on and retiring in September due to yet another injury. His low floor and high ceiling make for a risky addition to any team right now. - link
Newton’s presence breathes fantasy life into much of the Pats’ offense but there’s little doubt that RB James White and WR Julian Edelman are the biggest benefactors. While White is no Christian McCaffrey, he is a pass-catching specialist who averaged 43 receiving yards per game (RB3) and managed RB2 fantasy numbers in 2019. - link
Newton has not exactly had a lot to work with over his career in terms of surrounding talent. He did win an MVP throwing to Greg Olsen, Ted Ginn, Corey Brown and company in 2015….but it is arguable that when we last saw Newton in 2018, his surrounding core of Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Devin Funchess, and what was left of Greg Olsen that season is subjectively better than what he is inheriting currently in New England.
Sony Michel is going to be the most affected by the arrival of Cam Newton. He has been the primary goal line back since arriving in New England in 2018. He will be vultured by Newton around the goal line. Newton has averaged 7.25 rushing TDs per year since arriving in the NFL. I am completely out on Michel after this signing. Without the majority of the goal line work he is a boom or bust RB4. - link
Newton is a touchdown vulture in the rushing game. Since entering the league in 2011, only five players have more rushing touchdowns that Newton’s 57 while Newton accounted for 41.6% of his team rushing touchdowns while active from 2011-2018. That is a potential dent to someone such as Sony Michel, who is largely touchdown reliant in nature, to begin with. - link
Cam Newton did not show a propensity to target his primary RBs in Carolina until Christian McCaffrey arrived. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart averaged 26.8 targets/year and 25.6 targets/year respectively during their time with Newton under center. The ball game changed when McCaffrey arrived. He averaged 118.5 targets/year because he is an elite pass catcher out of the backfield. James White is not McCaffrey, but he may be the next best pass catcher in the league. Expect Newton to target him often when his primary WRs are covered. - link
The route running and middle of the field extraordinaire will serve as Newton’s first read. He is getting up there in age, but he can still separate extremely quickly and provide an open target with reliable hands for Newton in crucial third down situations. No one is expecting a repeat of his WR7 PPR finish in 2019, but he could be a value in drafts. According to FantasyPros best ball ADP, he is being drafted as the WR35 right now. I expect that to creep up a little, but he could provide steady, volume driven WR2 value in 2020. - link
The threat of a mobile QB will be massive for Edelman. Defenders will be pulled out of coverage to account for Cam, making bracket/doubles on Edelman difficult.
Cam Newton enjoyed some of his greatest success throwing to big bodied, contest catch specialists like Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess. Harry is cut from the same cloth. At 6’4″ and 225 lbs he is a monster of a man with a massive catch radius. The Patriots selected him with the sixteenth pick in the 2019 draft with an eye toward the future. According to Player Profiler, Harry has a 89th percentile college dominator rating and was in the 95th percentile in break out age. I expect him to be the primary weapon for Newton in the red zone. I can realistically see him catching 8-10 TDs. - link
Cam Newton, writing on Instagram about his contract: "This contract is not about money for me, it's about respect"
An AFC Head Coach on Cam Newton and the Patriots: "I think they are going to keep 3 QBs. Use Cam Newton perhaps as the wild card. I actually don't see him starting Week 1 in the offense... I know one thing for fact: the #Patriots love Jarrett Stidham"
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