The Patriots re-signed quarterback Cam Newton to a one year, $14 million contract on Friday, likely locking him in as the team’s starting quarterback for the 2020 season.

Newton’s re-signing revved up the online take machine, but it’s largely an inconsequential move, and one that’s good for the Patriots. Look at Newton’s contract and compare it to other annual averages — he comes in tied with Ben Roethlisberger pulling in $14 million. That effectively makes him the lowest-paid veteran starting quarterback in the league.

The next highest paid quarterback behind Newton and Roethlisberger is Joe Burrow at just over $9 million. Considering this contract is not going to be fully guaranteed, it’s a low-risk move for the Patriots. It pencils Newton in as the starting quarterback, but doesn’t solidify that he’ll be the guy. Jacoby Brissett was making more to back up Philip Rivers last season in Indianapolis!

It’s no secret that the passing game was abysmal last season in New England, becoming so lifeless and ineffective that they basically abandoned the pass by the end of the season. Over Newton’s final six starts, he threw just 20 passes a game for a paltry 6.3 yards per attempt.

The production out of the passing game needs to get better. The Patriots know this. Newton knows this.

The signing of Newton actually makes it a bit easier for the Patriots to upgrade their offense. Prior to Newton getting signed, the Patriots were sitting pretty with a nice $69.9 million in cap space. Assuming the cap hit will not be the full $14 million, the Patriots are in a great spot to add good players to their offense.

And goodness, do they need him.

Newton’s was a problem within the passing game for the Patriots, but he was not their biggest issue. Part of the reason why Tom Brady left New England was because they didn’t have the offensive firepower to get him to the Super Bowl. Newton certainly felt the brunt of that in his year with the team.

Former first round wide receiver N’Keal Henry has been a massive disappointment, averaging just 5.1 yards per target through 21 NFL games. Their best receivers last year were Damiere Byrd and Jakobi Meyers, solid players who have no business carrying sizable target loads over the course of a full NFL season.

With the money that they have saved up, they can go get upgrades at receiver. Whether it’s a big money target like Kenny Golladay or Will Fuller, or someone a bit cheaper like Corey Davis or Newton’s former teammate in Curtis Samuel, the Patriots have immediate, quality options available to them in free agency.

Letting Joe Thuney — one of the league’s premier guards — walk will sting as they attempt to rebuild the offense. However, they’re at least guaranteed continuity at quarterback and a few weapons upgrades on the exterior of their offense. It wouldn’t take much for this offense to be significantly better than it was a year ago.

The Patriots, again, have a cheap option at quarterback, except this time they have the cap space to make big time moves in free agency and will be getting key players like Dont’a Hightower, Patrick Chung, and Marcus Cannon back from the COVID-19 opt-out list.

The 2020 Patriots went 7-9 with a whole heck of a lot working against them. With quarterback solidified heading into an offseason full of choice and potential, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to get back into the playoffs.

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