Tom Brady, right, is gone from New England. Could Cam Newton, left, be his replacement? There former league MVP was cut by the Carolina Panthers and hasn’t yet found a new team. Jason E. Miczek/Associated Press

There are some in football circles who believe the Patriots will kick the tires on free-agent quarterback Cam Newton.

That’s with the understanding the team is strapped for cap room, and Newton and the Patriot Way seem to be such a mismatch.

Given Coach Bill Belichick has voiced admiration for Newton in the past, calling him “one of the great players in the league,” it wouldn’t be a surprise for the Patriots to do their due diligence and touch base with his agent, Bus Cook, to see what Newton might be seeking.

It certainly can’t hurt to inquire if Newton would be willing to come to New England on a reduced rate, in a short-term, prove-it-type deal after a couple injury-plagued campaigns.

The former NFL MVP and three-time Pro Bowler is coming off foot surgery. He’s also had shoulder problems in the past. There are medical issues that need to be investigated.

That being said, there will be suitors. Washington, where former Panthers coach Ron Rivera now resides, and the Chargers, looking for a bigger attraction at quarterback than Tyrod Taylor, look like the best options for him.

The Patriots?

They could be in the mix, based on where Newton would feel he’d have his best chance to succeed.

New England quarterback Jarrett Stidham is the leading candidate to replace Tom Brady … at this point. Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

At the moment, it looks like Tom Brady’s immediate successor will be Jarrett Stidham or Brian Hoyer. Stidham appears to be in the driver’s seat at this stage, though the team could add another quarterback to the mix.

So would it make sense for the Patriots to sign Newton?

George Whitfield Jr., a noted quarterback coach who has worked with Newton, believes there could be a marriage.

Whitfield described Newton as being an “alpha” quarterback, a leader in the huddle who will “battle, scratch, claw and do whatever it takes to win.” That clashes with the perception of Newton being a diva among NFL quarterbacks. Belichick wouldn’t put up with the pregame Superman displays, or the expectation of getting superstar treatment.

Others have behaved – or conformed – after becoming Patriots. Other diva types have checked their ego at the door for a time in Foxborough, be it Randy Moss or Chad Ochocinco.

Would Newton be willing to do that?

“Cam comes with some bluster. He’s eccentric in how he goes about doing things,” said Whitfield. “People shouldn’t expect him to come in in the same three-piece suit Brady came in. But he’s a winner, and ironically enough, he’s never lost to the Patriots.”

True, he’s 2-0 against the Patriots, and 7-1 against AFC East teams.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Whitfield is a huge supporter of Newton, with their relationship going back to the quarterback’s days at Florida and Auburn before being taken No. 1 overall by the Panthers in 2011. But even with his bias, Whitfield raised a few interesting points about Newton, who is now working with QB coach Jeff Christensen, and posted a video last week going through a throwing session.

Asked whether Newton’s uniqueness and flamboyance would mesh with Belichick, Whitfield believed it could.


Cam Newton certainly has a level of flamboyance, but would that mesh with Bill Belichick and the Patriots? David J. Phillip/Associated Press

“I’d love to watch it evolve, or transform once he got there. But, that’s not what’s coming through the front door,” said Whitfield, who last worked with Newton a little more than a year ago. “When you see him on the football field, it’s executing, it’s winning, it’s doing whatever’s necessary for the team’s success.

“I think people get distracted by what he wears in postgame press conferences. But when he’s wearing shoulder pads and cleats, his whole style is the Patriot Way. He’s 100-percent mission oriented. That’s it. There’s nothing else.”

Belichick, of course, just came from having one of the most indomitable competitors in sport in Brady. Whitfield said there’s only one Brady, especially when it comes to competing, but Newton has those same fires burning.

Between the lines, the Patriots would also be getting the type of quarterback who could handle stepping in after Brady and all the pressure associated with that.

Newton is already established. He already has a swagger, and enormous confidence in what he can do.

“I think Cam would smile and just do his thing. None of that stuff would affect him. I think he’d absolutely handle it,” said Whitfield. “I don’t think he’d look at it as the guy coming in after Brady. I think he would look at himself as a force, and a starting quarterback in the NFL coming to a great organization and getting a chance to lead it. I think he’d look at it more from a tactical standpoint than a romantic standpoint.”

In terms of an offensive fit, Newton is far more mobile than Brady. The Patriots’ offense is geared around a pocket passer. Whitfield doesn’t see that as a deal-breaker, or the fact he’d have to learn it on the fly, likely without the benefit of early camps.

“Look what he did with (Panthers offensive coordinator) Norv Turner. It was a downhill, running game, play-action style of offense … so he’s in the pocket, but the pocket has different launch points,” said Whitfield. “Sometimes it’s directly behind center, sometimes it comes off tackle a little, and he’s got multiple reads. It’s more progression-based. That’s what Josh McDaniels would ask him to do. That’s what the Patriots have been thriving on.

“Cam is adaptable. He’s got an incredibly high IQ, and he understands what these coordinators need to get done … You can’t do all that winning (in Carolina) just being the biggest, strongest, baddest dude on the field.”

Newton was at the top of his game the first half of the 2018 season, going 6-2 before lingering shoulder issues derailed that campaign. Again, the Patriots would have to evaluate his health problems before deciding to move further. It’s probably a pipe dream, but you never know exactly what to expect when it comes to them.

“Carolina was his playground. But now, he’d get to join one of the great franchises and dynasties in all sport,” Whitfield said of Newton. “I don’t think he’d be giving anything away. It would be the next chapter. I think he’d get down with that, because he wants to win.”

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