By: Mendy Cohen
With Andy Dalton off the market now, having signed to be a backup (or starter) for the Dallas Cowboys, there remains only one starting-caliber quarterback left on the market for the Patriots: Cam Newton. Football fans around the world are holding their breath and hoping Cam doesn’t sign with the Patriots. Luckily for them, even if they wanted to sign him, it isn’t plausible or smart.
Financially, the Patriots are very low on cap space with only $1,102,647 left (per spoctrac.com) to spend on Kyle Duggar, their number one draft pick, and possibly a few veteran additions from the FA market. One of the more expensive contracts for the team is that of Joe Thuney, who is being paid as the top left guard in the NFL at $14.8 million after being franchised tagged.
We can assume the Patriots are trying to trade or sign Thuney to a long-term deal that would mitigate the low cap space they have. The Patriots have not paid more than $26 million to their O-line until this year. They are currently paying $46 million, which seems pretty rich for the Patriots altogether. Freeing up at least $6-10 million could give them a lot more flexibility with their cap space to create a more balanced team in all phases of the game.
Once the Patriots handle Thuney’s contract situation, the question now becomes should they spend it on a quarterback or leave it how it is?
Let’s look at the Patriots current Quarterback situation and their cap hits for the 2020 season.
Jarrett Stidham: Second-year, 23 yrs ($834,000)
Brian Hoyer: 10-year journeyman, 34 yrs ($1,050,000)
Brian Lewerke: Rookie, 23 yrs ($761,667)
J’mar Smith: Rookie, 23 yrs ($763,333)
With Stidham and Hoyer taking up a combined 1.2% of the cap, as opposed to Tom Brady’s 9-12%, the Patriots are spending less on a QB than they have in 20 years. This money would typically go to positions that make up for the lower quality play of a QB.
Looking back on recent Super Bowl Champions, all the quarterbacks not named Manning or Brady were on their rookie contracts, enabling the team to spend more on veterans with proven value to boost the team’s quality. They were able to do this because they were frequently paying under 5% of the cap to their QB, the most coveted position in football.
Knowing this, along with the fact that Belicheck has made it clear that Stidham is the guy to beat in NE and passed over Jordan Love and every other quarterback in the draft, we can understand why they aren’t going to pay Cam Newton to be their QB1.
The best solution is to not take the money they hope to save on Joe Thuney and spend it on a QB but to take it and share the wealth at the WR, TE, and LB positions to give the team a more balanced roster and a better chance to win with an unproven quarterback.