Tom Brady announced on social media on March 17 that he was leaving the Patriots as a free agent.
Cam Newton was officially cut by the Panthers on March 24, although his separation from the team was evident long before that.
New England was seemingly in the market for a quarterback and Newton needed a job, and yet the Patriots didn’t officially sign the former NFL MVP until July 8.
What exactly drew the Patriots to sign Newton this summer after he’d sat on the open market for months?
In his first meeting with the media since draft weekend, Bill Belichick explained during a Friday afternoon WebEx call with local reporters just how Newton’s relatively late signing came about.
“Things worked out,” Belichick said. “We spent quite a bit of time with Cam and he spent quite a bit of time with us. I think it was mutual interest. We went and spent quite a bit…a number of different people and a number of different conversations, really just trying to see how the fit would be. And it was very positive on our end and I’m glad it worked out.”
For essentially two decades Brady was the presumed and entrenched starting quarterback in New England. Never in Belichick’s two-decade tenure as coach has there been a true competition at the position.
Theoretically, that’s different this summer. Newton may be the biggest star on the depth chart, but second-year former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and journeyman veteran Brian Hoyer will also be in the mix on the practice field.
According to Belichick, though, there’s nothing special about the work that will go on in terms of the quarterback competition.
“That spot is the same as all the other spots on the team,” Belichick said. “We have a long way to go and we’ll see how things turn out. I can’t control how players perform. That’s up to them. We’ll give everybody an opportunity and see what happens. I don’t know.”
Belichick also noted that quarterback, like all positions and really all aspects of the team, will begin with the basics and build over the course of this summer’s unique training camp dynamic, regardless of which player ends up winning the starting job come September.