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Bill Belichick Would 'Consider' Playing Multiple QBs Despite Signing Cam Newton

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistAugust 19, 2020

New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton passes during an NFL football camp practice, Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)
Steven Senne/Associated Press

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said Wednesday he'd "consider" a plan where multiple quarterbacks could play on a weekly basis as Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer compete to replace Tom Brady as the team's starting QB.

"I always say I'll do what's best for the team, what gives us the best chance to win," Belichick told reporters. "So, whatever that is, I would certainly consider that. If it's running unbalanced line or double unbalanced line or 23 personnel or whatever it is. If it helps us win, then I would consider anything."

The Patriots signed Newton to a one-year, $1.75 million incentive-laden contract in July after the Carolina Panthers released him in March.

The Auburn product was one of the NFL's most dynamic playmakers during the peak of his nine-year career with the Panthers. In 2015, he was named the league's Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team All-Pro and led the team to an appearance in Super Bowl 50.

The 31-year-old's career has been derailed by injuries in recent years, though. He required offseason shoulder surgery following the 2018 season and made just two appearances in 2019 before sitting out the season with a foot injury.

Earlier this month, the three-time Pro Bowl selection said he's ready to roll after those setbacks:

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"As far as how I feel right now, I feel amazing. I feel great. Not any different than any other person in that locker room right now so I'm extremely optimistic about that. Through it all, it's just putting yourself in position to be in the best shape and having your body in the best possible situation when you actually need it."

If he's back to full strength, he'd likely give the Patriots offense the most upside of any quarterback on the roster. There are other factors in play, though.

New England could secure a high pick in the 2021 draft with a poor season, given its uncertainty under center and the fact that numerous key players—including offensive tackle Marcus Cannon, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and safety Patrick Chung—have opted out of playing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In turn, the Pats may want to get an extensive look at Stidham to see whether his development is putting him on a trajectory to become a long-term franchise quarterback.

Belichick said Wednesday that at some point he'll switch from splitting the snaps to giving the projected starter the most work with the first-team offense:

"Obviously there is some point where that is going to happen. But right now we want to try to, like I said, give everybody an opportunity to get the basics. We're really doing that at all the positions. Everybody's rotating through and we're trying to give everybody an opportunity to run the basic plays, get the basic fundamentals down."

That's more important this year with no preseason games to get reserves extensive playing time.

Both Newton and Stidham will likely start games in 2020. The breakdown will be based on how good the former Panthers superstar looks through the rest of training camp and whether Stidham is ready for the spotlight after some strong play as a rookie in last year's preseason.

The Patriots will kick off the regular season Sept. 13 when they host the AFC East rival Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

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