Cam Newton felt “disrespected” when most teams weren’t interested in signing him this off-season. He felt “vindicated” when he joined the New England Patriots, but first questioned a union with coach Bill Belichick.
Newton spoke about his journey through free agency during a roundtable YouTube discussion Monday with Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz and Todd Gurley. The Patriots signed the former NFL MVP on June 28 after he was released March 24 by the Carolina Panthers.
Newton said he never wanted to leave the Panthers before his long wait to sign with a new team. The three-time Pro Bowl selection went unsigned for three months while other free agent quarterbacks were signed, others were traded and several teams selected quarterbacks in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Some of the delay was caused by individual workouts being disallowed due to coronavirus pandemic safety precautions, which have closed NFL team facilities this off-season.
“I counted the days I was unemployed. Eighty-six nights,” Newton said. “People were getting signed. … You can’t say I’m old because people older than me were getting signed. You can’t say it’s about injury because people more injured than me were getting signed. You can’t say my talent [wasn’t good enough].”
Newton, 31, completed 56.2 percent of his throws for 572 yards in two games last season. He threw one interception and didn’t throw a touchdown pass. He missed 14 games in 2019 due to an ankle injury. Newton also played through a shoulder issues in 2018.
“These last two years, I haven’t been putting the best film on tape,” Newton said of his inconsistent play in 2018 and 2019. “That’s just honest. At the same time, there are other people [who were signed] who have been putting [bad] film out there.”
Newton said he felt “vindicated” when his agent called him during a workout to tell him the Patriots were interested in a union, but he had reservations about his style fitting with Belichick.
“I said: ‘Hold up. How are me and Belichick going to mesh?” Newton said of his conversation with his agent.
He also thought about what it would be like to replace former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this off-season after he spent 20 seasons with the Patriots.
Newton said he looks forward to opening up the Patriots’ playbook with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. Newton’s ability as a runner will allow the team to do more rollout and option-type plays, unlike when they had the less-mobile Brady at quarterback.
“We have to talk about elephant in the room [Brady],” Newton said. “What he was, and is, is great. Needs no talking about it. McDaniels, you [will be] able to call some stuff you haven’t been able to call now.”
Newton also looks forward to games against some of the teams that chose not to sign him this off-season. The Patriots are scheduled to face one of those teams, the Los Angeles Chargers, on Dec. 6 in Los Angeles.
“[The Patriots] are getting a dog. A ticked off dog,” Newton said of his attitude after teams didn’t sign him.