Cam Newton’s one-year, incentive-laden contract with the New England Patriots is mostly a no-lose situation in a post-Tom Brady world. So why wouldn’t the Patriots take the plunge? If Newton is healthy and performs at the high level he did when he was named NFL MVP and led the Carolina Panthers to Super Bowl 50, he could be the Patriots' starting quarterback and put them back into the conversation as one of the AFC's elite teams. If his previously injured foot doesn’t respond well or his performance and fit in offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ system don’t measure up, there’s limited financial pain for the team in quickly moving on.

So with Newton willing to accept what the Patriots have to offer -- a low-cost chance to battle with 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham and 11-year veteran Brian Hoyer to be Brady’s replacement -- it adds a stick of dynamite to what was already a compelling situation.

The Patriots have been high on Stidham, while some on the club also have acknowledged there’s always a blind spot with a young signal-caller until he actually plays. So now they protect themselves more at the game’s most important position, increasing competition and seeing if Stidham rises up.

Meanwhile, Newton could have considered waiting for an injury somewhere in the NFL with more of a clear path to start. But his decision to come to New England on a prove-it type of deal reflects a desire to compete, which has to be appealing to coach Bill Belichick, who often says nothing is given and players ultimately earn their roles through their performance.

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