Howe reported the Patriots didn't have substantial interest in signing Newton until he softened his contract demands. The move also reportedly had nothing to do the performance of Jarrett Stidham.
Mike Reiss of ESPN also opined that the signing wasn't necessarily a reflection on Stidham.
Stidham had been the presumed starter since Tom Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. After deciding not to pick a quarterback in the 2020 draft, it appeared the Patriots were ready to go forward with the second-year player.
Adding Newton gives New England another option under center, one with a lot of upside as a former MVP. At his best, the former Carolina Panthers star is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the NFL with the ability to take over games with his arm and his legs.
The question marks come with his health after shoulder and foot injuries limited him over the past few seasons. He only played two games in 2019 before a Lisfranc injury ended his year.
The 31-year-old now has a chance to return to his elite status, but it appears he will first have to earn a starting job with New England.
Newton, Stidham, Brian Hoyer and undrafted rookies J'Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke will compete for spots on the depth chart in 2020.