Patriots QB Cam Newton discusses future, why he thinks he’s still a starter

Now that his first season with the Patriots is over, Cam Newton has loose ends to wrap up and important things to attend to, like leaving Boston as soon as possible to see his children for the first time in more than three months.
But sooner rather than later, the quarterback wants clarity on his future, and where he’ll play next season. And while it may seem unlikely that he would return to the Patriots, it hasn’t been ruled out and he seems receptive to the idea.
Asked Monday morning on WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show” how he would feel about coming back to the Patriots, Newton had a one-word answer.
“Remarkable,” he said.
Though he finished the season on a high note in Sunday’s win over the Jets, Newton was inconsistent in 2020. He knows he was far from his best, but the 31-year-old also isn’t lacking confidence as he heads into free agency again.
Newton said “it’s too early to tell” when asked if he would take a backup role wherever he lands in 2021, but it’s clear he thinks he’s better than that, and he thinks he still has starting talent.
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“I know out of 32 guys, I’m not the 32nd position rank at that position,” Newton said. “You also have to understand I’m a competitor first. I think the highest of myself first, as any person would or should. I know what my skill set is, I know what my talent is. I understand that if given the opportunity, there’s nobody better than me. That’s how I will always feel. I have to also feel realistic about the opportunity that’s presented as well. So who knows if it takes being a backup. …
“If you’re asking me, do I want to be a backup? Hell no. Because when I’m looking at other teams and other players play, and it’s been guys who have been getting away with I feel murder for years because of subpar play. Do I have the right to say that with the year that I had this year? No. …
“I have a lot of ammunition in the barrel to get better this offseason and that’s what I’m going to focus on doing. I have my health, this is probably the first healthy offseason that I’ve probably had in about five, six years. I’m going to make the most of it. I have to obviously work on my mechanics, I have to obviously throw the football sooner … and those are going to be things I’m focusing on as we get geared up for the offseason.”
One thing is certain: Whatever team he ends up with, Newton thinks signing sooner will help him. Newton didn’t agree to a deal with the Patriots until late June, which put him behind the curve in terms of learning his new team and system, and he doesn’t want to make that mistake again.
“That definitely is going to go into consideration,” Newton said. “I’m not going to wait until the latter part of another season when I have the opportunity to do something or sign with someone. I think I put myself at a disadvantage of that, but yeah, you just live and learn.”
Some other tidbits from Newton’s final interview of the season:
• Newton said that replacing Tom Brady this season didn’t put any extra burden on him.
“None. It was the system,” Newton said. “People undermine that, and no disrespect to him, obviously I have the utmost respect for him, as we all do as quarterbacks, but I wasn’t just following him. I was following a system that he had the luxury of being in for 20 years. Just imagine that. That’s just like as a student, you’re just given six months to take a final exam honestly that took 20 years to prepare, but you only have in essence five weeks to prepare for it and going through a process of 4-5 months to weekly prepare for it.”
• Newton appreciated his relationship with Bill Belichick, and said one thing that surprised him about the coach was “how cool he was.”
“I really thought he was like that sour principal that you never want to see in the hallways,” Newton said. “But he’s so cool, man. For what it’s worth, he’s like that guy that you just want to have a drink with. Just sit down and ‘hey man, can I kick it? You know what I’m saying? Let’s chat.’ I’ll bet he’d be so dope at a bar. He’s got stories out the wazoo.”
• Newton said one lesson he’ll take from this season was the “competitive stamina” that existed and was required within the organization. He would regularly arrive to the facility at 5:15 a.m. and not leave until 10 p.m.
“Every ounce of second, minutes, time and hours was accounted for and the mental focus that you need in that building is heightened by the fact of one thing and one thing only,” Newton said. “Understanding that over the time I was here is something that I will never shy away from for the rest of my life. It was the expectation of not doing something to get right, it was more or less doing something until you can’t get it wrong anymore.”

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