The Jarrett Stidham era was fun while it lasted. Sure, New England signed Cam Newton yesterday only to "come in and compete for the starting job." They can say whatever they want. If he's healthy, the former No. 1 overall pick will be in the lineup this year. The 2019 fourth-rounder will be on the bench.
New England has long had a habit of taking fliers on veterans. A whole lot of them didn't work out: Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Antonio Brown. But if we're guessing, Newton seems a lot more likely to wind up in the Randy Moss or at least Corey Dillon territory. He's a franchise quarterback who -- when healthy -- has proven he can be one of the league's best.
That's especially true in fantasy terms. Over the past five years, 45 quarterbacks have started at least 20 games in the NFL. The list of quarterbacks who've averaged more fantasy points per start than Newton is short: Jackson, Mahomes, Watson and retired Andrew Luck. If I'd cropped the list at a minimum of 40 starts, no one would have been better than Newton.
|FANTASY POINTS PER START, 2015-PRESENT|
I wasn't going to pick on the Bears, like everyone else is doing today. They of course opted to trade a draft pick for Nick Foles and take on his ridiculous contract rather than sign Newton. But hard to ignore that he shows up at the bottom of the above table, while Newton trails only the last two MVPs, Watson, and a retired guy.
Yes, Newton appeared in only two games last year. He was never healthy, sustaining an injury in a preseason game (against the Patriots -- of course). But it's not correct to call him injury-prone, considering over his previous eight seasons he'd missed a total of five games. Why exactly was he just sitting out there for the team that's dominated the last two decades to sign?
I think there's some hyperbole out there surrounding this move. Some are saying he should be drafted in the top 10 at the position. I think the fact that he was available, and signed a relatively cheap deal with New England, suggests strongly that there's some concern about his health. Not that he's injury prone, but maybe that he's simply not right physically at all -- that all the hits over the years have taken a toll on his body. In the two games he did play in 2019 he carried just 5 times for -2 yards, so maybe he'll be more likely to stick in the pocket than ever before.
But if I'm stepping into a draft today, I see about 11 quarterbacks I'd select over Newton, tops (and they don't include Tom Brady). I think you can draft Newton and another viable starter in back-to-back rounds, just in case he's not healthy (or on the 1-2 percent chance that I'm underestimating Stidham). But if he plays 16 games, he'll probably be a top-7 or 8 quarterback and win fantasy leagues.