Well, it may be the end of June, but the New England Patriots have found a way to steal all of the headlines in the NFL over the last few days. Let’s get to it!
New England may have found its replacement for quarterback Tom Brady in former Carolina Panthers signal-caller Cam Newton. After all this time without a team, Newton has signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal that can be worth up to $7.5 million with incentives.
Bill Belichick pulled a fast one on everyone (again). The Patriots have said all along that they were fine going to training camp with Jarrett Stidham in line to be the starter and Brian Hoyer around if needed.
But the 2015 MVP is going to New England in hopes of resurrecting his career after missing most of 2019 with a foot injury on the heels on shoulder surgery late in 2018. Barring an injury, Newton will be the official successor to Brady and try to deliver the Pats a 12th straight AFC East title.
The Oddsmakers Say
Newton signing with New England has shaken up a lot of offseason prop bets. According to MGM, Newton is now tied with Aaron Rodgers and Kyler Murray as having the ninth-best odds to win league MVP at +2500.
In case you’re wondering, Patrick Mahomes has the best odds at +375, while Brady is at +1600. Meanwhile, Newton going to the Patriots moved his odds from +1800 to +340 to win NFL Comeback Player of the Year. Most oddsmakers now have him second in that category behind Ben Roethlisberger.
Slap on the Wrist
Elsewhere in Patriots news, the team has been fined $1.1 million and will lose a third-round pick in next year’s draft for sending a film crew to a game between the Bengals and Browns in December a week before the Patriots visited Cincinnati. New England is also banned from sending production crews to games in 2020.
The Patriots have claimed that it was an honest mistake and that the production crew was made up of independent contractors and not team employees who were following the work of an advanced scout. However, the NFL was apparently unimpressed with that explanation and has handed down a reasonable punishment.
Linebacker Shaquil Barrett has cleared up any speculation that he might hold out this season if he doesn’t receive a long-term deal. Barrett said in a radio interview Monday that he’ll sign his franchise tag by July 15 if he and the Buccaneers don’t agree to an extension.
Coming off a breakout season in which he led the NFL with 19.5 sacks, Barrett is hoping for a long-term deal. However, he acknowledges that given the uncertainty in the world right now, he’s unlikely to get one, leaving him to play the 2020 season on the franchise tag with a salary of $15.8 million.
Public health expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has mentioned the potential need for the NFL to play in a bubble this fall, and now Raiders owner Mark Davis is wondering the same thing. In a recent interview, Davis said: “Without some form of bubble, we may be asking for trouble.”
The NFL has no plans to even attempt a bubble concept for the 2020 season, which would be both expensive and complicated. However, it’s unclear if the league will be able to allow fans in the stadiums.
Meanwhile, Davis and the Raiders have chosen to cover the first eight rows of seats at their stadium with tarp to help create some distance between players and fans if crowds are allowed inside stadiums this season.