The New England Patriots have repeatedly been linked to Cam Newton since he was released by the Carolina Panthers, and one Bill Belichick confidant is not ready to rule out the possibility of the Pats signing the former NFL MVP.
Michael Lombardi, who served as an assistant to the coaching staff with New England from 2014-2016, told WEEI’s “Ordway, Merloni and Fauria Show” on Thursday that he still believes there is a possibility the Patriots will sign Newton. While Lombardi thinks the Patriots like what they have in Jarrett Stidham, he said Belichick is always looking to acquire talent at a discount.
“I think if there has been one player hurt by the coronavirus in terms of being able to get in front of people — to be able to take a comprehensive physical not only on his shoulder, but on his foot to really understand where he is medically — it’s been Cam Newton,” Lombardi said. “If you just understand Coach Belichick … he loves to play the market like Warren Buffett does, ‘I am going to buy low and sell high.’ This is a blue-chip, MVP player who is out there at a position that there is a degree of uncertainty.”
The Patriots have barely any salary cap space, which is something Lombardi alluded to. However, $14.7 million of the cap is currently dedicated to offensive lineman Joe Thuney, whom the Patriots franchise tagged earlier this offseason. If New England signs Thuney to an extension or trades him, that could open up a significant chunk of money.
“You’re talking about a team that has always, always, and this has been Belichick’s mantra forever, is always looking for ways to improve the team, not necessarily on draft day, but 365 days a year,” Lombardi said. “Until they can get a medical, until they can get an understanding of where he is, I don’t think you can rule him out.”
Lombardi is obviously a lot more familiar with Belichick’s thinking than the average person. Not only did he work with Belichick for several years, but Lombardi’s son Mick is also currently a wide receivers coach with the Patriots.
The Patriots seem content to move forward with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham as their starter, though that may have more to do with finances and a shortened offseason than anything. Belichick hinted recently that the team could add another quarterback, and there is reason to believe Newton’s expectations for the 2020 season are changing. He’d surely welcome the opportunity to play for the Pats and prove the doubters wrong.