At least one AFC East head coach doesn't expect the division-rival New England Patriots to start recently signed quarterback Cam Newton for their season-opening game against the Miami Dolphins on Sept. 13.
"I think they are going to keep 3 QBs. Use Cam Newton perhaps as the wild card," the unnamed coach told ESPN's Dianna Russini on Wednesday. "I actually don't see him starting Week 1 in the offense...I know one thing for a fact: The Patriots love Jarrett Stidham."
Newton signed a one-year, $1.1 million incentive-laden contract with the Patriots to compete with Stidham and Brian Hoyer for the starting job following the departure of six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who left in free agency to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The 2015 NFL MVP was released by the Carolina Panthers in March after undergoing shoulder surgery following the 2018 season and suffering a foot injury that limited him to two appearances in 2019.
He was previously one of the league's most dynamic playmakers. He's completed 59.6 percent of his throws for 29,041 yards with 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions in 125 regular-season games. He added 4,806 rushing yards and 58 scores on the ground across nine years in Carolina.
Newton also led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, where they suffered a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
The 31-year-old Atlanta native posted a YouTube vlog after signing with the Pats:
A full-strength Newton has the most upside of any quarterback on New England's roster, but his recent injuries—paired with signing late in the offseason and the delayed start to on-field work because of the coronavirus pandemic—could make it difficult to slide right into the starting lineup.
Stidham, a 2019 fourth-round pick, impressed during last year's preseason. He connected on 61 of his 90 attempts (67.8 percent) for 731 yards with four touchdowns and one interception in four games. However, he made just four throws during the regular season while working behind Brady.
Hoyer is in his third stint with the Pats, who signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2009.
Newton's arrival has caused expectations around New England, the division winner each of the last 11 years, to begin rising again. It's still a wide-open race heading into the 2020 campaign, though.