ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on Sunday NFL Countdown both Newton and the Pats are ready to head their separate ways before the 2021 campaign:
"It looks like [Cam Newton's] looking for something different, the Patriots are looking for something different. Both sides enjoyed their relationship, but both sides expect that it will take them to a different place and a different direction in 2021, with Cam Newton likely moving on and the Patriots in search of a new quarterback for next season."
Newton signed a one-year, $1.75 million incentive-laden contract with the Patriots in July, and the deal looked like a potential steal through the first two weeks. He scored five touchdowns (four rushing and one passing) over that span, which included a 397-yard passing day against the Seattle Seahawks.
The 2015 NFL MVP mostly struggled as a passer after that Week 2 contest, however, and it quickly became evident New England wasn't going to keep pace with the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East.
In all, he's completed 65.4 percent of his attempts for 2,415 yards with five touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 14 appearances. He's added 513 rushing yards and 12 scores on the ground.
Newton explained that the inadequate time to learn the Patriots system because he signed late in the offseason and the elimination of preseason games because of the coronavirus pandemic played a role in his lackluster numbers, but he also understands there's room for improvement.
"For me, I still can be better. I still can be more consistent. Some of the throws that I've had, I wish I would have had back," he told reporters. "But yet nobody cares about the circumstances, nobody cares about the waves or the tide that's in the water. They just care about you just reeling that ship on in, and I didn't do that consistently enough."
He was also forced to deal with a Patriots roster that lacked proven playmakers at wide receiver and tight end, which is another factor in the evaluation of his 2020 season.
That said, it'll likely prove difficult for him to find a guaranteed starting job heading toward 2021 given his poor touchdown-to-interception ratio in the pass-happy NFL. Another chance to compete for the top spot on the depth chart, like he did in New England, is probably the best possible outcome.
Meanwhile, the Patriots' hunt for a long-term replacement for Tom Brady will continue either via the 2021 draft or free agency. It's possible the team adds another veteran on a short-term deal while using an early-round pick on a signal-caller it hopes develops into a franchise cornerstone.
New England won't move back into the championship conversation until that crucial void is filled.