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Brady Signs Extension; Newton Back to Pats

Some quarterback news this morning.

Tom Brady has signed a four-year extension with Tampa Bay but it's actually just a cap-manipulation device that voids to a one-year extension. That ties Brady to the Bucs through the 2022 season, when he will be 45 years old. It spreads his cost over future years when the salary cap will be a lot higher than it is for 2021.

Meanwhile, Brady's old team is bringing back Cam Newton on a one-year deal. It's been reported as $14 million but that's heavily incentives; looks like it is actually $8 million with $6 million in incentives. (UPDATE: Make that $5 million with $9 million in incentives.) Newton had a poor passing season in 2020 but I think some of the hope here is that part of Newton's struggles were related to coming down with COVID midseason, and that he will improve with a full offseason to work with the Patriots coaches and some improvements in the Patriots receiving corps -- which should be coming, as the Pats have a lot of cap space.

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104 comments, Last at 19 Mar 2021, 2:22am

1 The headline four-year deal…

The headline four-year deal had me scratching my head at first. I guess Tom Brady really does want to play till he's 200. 


I think this was a good move by the Pats. Cam Newton is cheap and there's a solid chance that if you improve the receiving core drastically and he has a full off season that he plays a lot better the next year. The defense will also get a lot of its players back  and a healthy cap sheet means they'll be a lot more to work with.

For others out there, does anyone want to venture a guess when the Tom Brady fall happens? You could have reasonably expected it all the way back when he was 38 and winning an MVP. It's not even like he's noodle armed Peyton Manning doing it all with his mind. Brady's arms is still quite lively. I'm not sure there's another athlete in any sport that has survived two decades of pounding and is still this good. Maybe Roger Federer?

6 Tennis has some good…

Tennis has some good examples. Federer, as you mention, and of course Serena Williams. Djokovic looks like a good bet to last, but he's only 33 now and a lot can happen as he approaches 40. Going back in history, Jimmy Connors' peak years were in the mid-70s but he was still in the top 5 in the late 80s and made the US Open semis in 1991 at age 39. Ken Rosewall and Martina Navratilova were a top ten player until around 38 and Martina was a top doubles player into her mid 40s.

Still, it's an apples-and-oranges comparison. High-level tennis is much more physically demanding than playing QB (imagine Jaren Lorenzen getting run all over the place by Rafael Nadal, for instance) but of course tennis players aren't occasionally obliterated by huge men moving at high speeds.

8 It's interesting that men's…

It's interesting that men's tennis has one of the worst age curves of any sport considering that it's a low physical contact sport in comparison.

maybe that's changing with sports science but usually a player was done by age 35

15 That's because a lot of…

That's because a lot of aging isn't contact related - it's usage related. Contact injuries are usually catastrophic.

Baseball pitchers have a pretty steady decline from day 1, for instance, with velocity having a near-straight decline after ~25 or so. Not much sports science can do in that sense, it's just progressive destruction of the shoulder. It's the old "doctor, it hurts when I do this" "then don't do that" problem.

I'm not really convinced that NFL quarterbacks have to have an age-related decline in arm. They're effectively imparting about as much energy as a baseball pitcher throwing pretty slow (~80-85 mph) and they throw dramatically fewer times per year than a starting pitcher (~500-600 vs like, 10K+) - I mean, Jamie Moyer was throwing like that at age 47. 

25 On the flip side, I'm not…

On the flip side, I'm not sure we should read much from Brady. His skillset has changed quite a bit over his career, and hes been really good at changing his playstyle to fit what's around him, and improving his weaknesses. 


I still think something is going to fall below a threshold and he'll fall apart soon, but I'm way less surprised by him adjusting and succeeding than I would be to see someone succeeding at 40+ who made their career on having a lazer-rocket-arm. 

31 Age curves hit qbs…

Age curves hit qbs differently though. Mcnabb's decline was pretty dramatic. Happened overnight and he was in his early 30s I believe. 

Rivers is 38 but by the end, his arm was toast. I think Ben is basically toast now too while Brees until this season and Brady managed stave it off. 

And these are the modern guys. Before Favre, it felt like every QB's peak topped at 35 before the decline came. 

Maybe its just genetics. Or maybe its being fortunate to avoid injury to your arm or back or whatever. I think Manning the elder might have had a similar age curve to Brees at least if he had avoided that neck injury. Brady doing this at 44 is absurd. I did not think it was even possible for him to be doing this. 

37 My point wasn't that other…

My point wasn't that other QBs haven't aged, it's that I'm not sure it's physically guaranteed. The fact that many QBs fall off a cliff is what's surprising. Pitchers age *constantly* : you see velocity decline straight away. That's more indicative of unavoidable wear.

Moyer was an example for a reason: he played ludicrously long because he wasn't *using* it like the others. Brady, for instance, still has top-end arm strength, but people have been saying "his arm's not that strong" for a reason - because the only time he uses it is for showing off to fans. A 61 mph football has the same energy as a 100+ mph fastball. If Brady was actually throwing that constantly, he'd be aging just like pitchers. So the obvious conclusion is that he's not.

43 Then there are the true …

Then there are the true "freaks", Nolan Ryan at the top of the list.  He was still throwing 95+ heat in his mid 40s.  Randy Johnson's probably #2.  Others like Warren Spahn had to adjust their approach.  He led the NL in strikeouts 4 straight years in the early 50s but as he was approaching 300 wins (and age 40) years later, his screwball had become his out pitch.

45 I heard an interview with…

I heard an interview with Carson Palmer recently and I think his description of his experience as he aged lines up with this. He felt like he was able to maintain something close to his peak arm strength through late in his career, but he dialed his practice workload way back and didn't push his arm as hard when he did throw in practice.

Even though QBs aren't hit nearly the way they used to be, I think taking hits into your 40s might still be pretty tough for a lot of guys. Like I have to think age was a factor in how Drew Brees broke nearly all of his ribs this past season.

66 There's quite a few examples…

There's quite a few examples in baseball where gradual decline leads to a performance cliff - where one element of a players game declines enough that they can't compensate, scouting changes, and they get destroyed.  

IE, a hitter loses a small amount of bat speed - starts cheating on fastballs to compensate, which opens up a huge vulnerability to off-speed stuff.  

Strikeouts go up, walks go down, power dissappears, and he goes from 250/350/450 to 220/280/350.


Manning's decline's root source was his injury - but the statistical performance decline came when teams started playing him differently - when they started forcing him to attempt throws he couldn't make anymore.  IE - when teams noticed one aspect of his game was no longer viable. 

69 I think in baseball a lot of…

I think in baseball a lot of that's just noise (well, 'person-to-person' noise) - once you pull together everyone, the average aging curve is incredibly clear, by practically any metric.

If you try to do the same for quarterbacks in the NFL, though... there just isn't one, except for a final cliff year. Brian Burke had a study on this a few years ago. With no survivor bias correction, the QB aging curve is basically flat. Trying to correct for survivor bias yields what looks like a reasonable aging curve, but it's essentially all coming from the quarterback's final year - that is, the final year of a normal QB corresponds to six years of the "aging curve" decline, and then they're gone. If you trim that final year... it's like quarterbacks don't age again. And the drop in that last year is big statistically but it's not big from a year-to-year variation.

Trying to get an aging curve for a pitcher in MLB is just shockingly easy. Velocity, walks per 9, strikeouts per 9, HR/9, and any advanced metric basically all show dead-clear average aging curves. Individual pitchers deviate from that, sure, but the average is stupid-obvious. Trying to do the same in the NFL is next-to-impossible. The only thing that seems to be consistent is quarterbacks peak at ~28 and then don't age - they just retire after a bad year.

38 Brees was 7th in DVOA last…

Brees was 7th in DVOA last season and Rivers was 12th. I know people keep on saying they are done based on how they look, but their statistical performance was still just fine.

29 Now you're talking my sport!

Tennis's wear and tear is different from football's, obviously.  We happen to be seeing some of the very best tennis players ever right now in Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Serena.  It is not the norm that players are playing that well into their late 30s.  5 set matches, especially on hard courts and in summer heat, are grueling. It's easier for Nadal on clay courts in May in the milder weather.

Anyway, similar to football, nowadays tennis players need to build up their bodies (and skill) before they can be winning Grand Slams. We aren't seeing 17-18-19 year old Grand Slam champions anymore (moreso on the men's side than women's).  But past 35, you won't see that many champions due to the grueling nature of the sport.  Those four mentioned above are an anomaly.


Fun fact: Drew Brees beat Andy Roddick as junior tennis player.  Of course, Brees was 12, and Roddick was 9.  But tennis is a great sport for developing quick feet and footwork.

30 Some fun facts. I think it…

Some fun facts. I think it was 538 that said the hardest thing to do in sports is to beat Nadal on clay. For what felt like a decade, the only tournaments Federer would not win were one's against Nadal. That Wimbledon match between him and Nadal goes on a very short list of the greatest sporting events I ever saw.

A lot of analytics sites are suggesting the Joker is the best player ever. That's certainly possible considering he's racked up a ton of grand slam wins in probably the hardest era ever by a mile. But If you grew up during the Federer heyday, he dominated the sport unlike anyone else. There was Federer and the field + Nadal on his home turf and then everyone else. He was just sublime and I found myself rooting against him just for the sake of parity. 

Of the three, I am partial to Nadal myself even though I think his game is more dependent on physicality than the other 2. 

32 I hate Djokovic, but that's…

I hate Djokovic, but that's probably true.  You can even argue that Federer's, and Nadal's majors totals can be a bit inflated since they started winning titles back when younger people were still winning titles, and they were competing with the likes of players like Lleyton Hewitt, who no one would put on their all-time great list.  I do prefer Nadal myself, and yes that Wimbledon match was epic.  There have been so many epic 5 set matches between the 3 of them, mostly 4-5 hour matches happening in the early morning hours.  

40 I heard Andre Agassi…

I heard Andre Agassi interviewed recently, and he said he thought that Djokovic's peak level was comfortably the best of all time. 

He has winning head to head records against both Federer and Nadal (he completely dominates Nadal on every surface other than clay). 

Incidentally he also only just beat Federer's record for weeks at #1 (311), quite a monumental achievement, in this era. He is also comfortably the highest prize money winner of all time.

The only measure he is still behind in is Grand Slam victories. Whilst it's not quite as silly as QB Ringzzz, that clearly should not be used as the best/only measure of overall superiority.

I think it's beyond doubt that he is the GOAT at this point. 

47 Well I'd offer two caveats…

Well I'd offer two caveats.

1) by the time Djokovic hit his prime, Federer was exiting his. Fed's decline has been very gentle and graceful, but he was clearly was not at the peak of his powers as djokovic's reign of dominance has gone on.

2) Nadal has been dogged by injuries around this time as well. At various points I thought he would be done but he's managed to adjust as well. I still think a fully healthy Nadal can defeat Djokovic.

maybe as Djokovic continues to dominate in the next several years I'll change my opinion, but there was just this feeling of invincibility with Federer everywhere but clay.


62 We all have our goats but…

We all have our goats but for me Mcenroe is the goat.  He always played singles, then doubles and many times mixed doubles.  He excelled at each and always played Davis cup.

36 I've often argued that Roger…

I've often argued that Roger Federer is the greatest champion in sports history.  Set aside the 20 grand slam titles.

For the prime of his career, he could reliably beat anybody in the world on any surface but clay.

For the prime of his career, he could reliably beat anybody in the world, with the exception of one, on clay.

I don't think anybody has ever dominated their sport to such a degree.

Level of competition aside, which might be better than we think due to Federer and Nadal constantly suppressing it, it's hard to imagine that level of dominance in a professional sport.  Maybe Secretariat was on that level.

99 That's certainly possible…

That's certainly possible considering he's racked up a ton of grand slam wins in probably the hardest era ever by a mile.

Actually, this recent tennis era has been easier than many others because there's only a few good men's players at the top and few worthy challengers outside that.  The Big Three (or, used to be, the Big Four) can reliably reach the late rounds of tournaments without too much fuss, year after year. 


24 Reaction Time

It's also the decline in reaction time, which peaks at about age 24.



41 I'm not sure there's another…

I'm not sure there's another athlete in any sport that has survived two decades of pounding and is still this good

Nolan Ryan -  throwing no-hitters in his 40s  (no pitch limit in those days)

Gordie Howe - playing pro hockey in his 50s. (96 points in a season at age 50).


88 damn

I just realized I'm older now than Gordie was in Hartford when he retired. :( 

We loved the Howes in Hartford. But there should be a caveat that the WHA wasn't quite the same as the NHL.  

2 can we get more FA/Off…

can we get more FA/Off season XP please?

I can't follow football like it's a religion, but I would like to stay updated on important moves.


3 This. There needs to be an…

This. There needs to be an XP on the Chief's release of Fisher and Schwartz. This is pretty important, if the Chiefs don't get their OL right Mahomes will be scrambling for his life like he did in the Super Bowl. 

4 Was thinkin the other day...

Maybe the Pats select a QB at 32 if Brady says its his last year. Guess they can grab one later as a backup.

Don't understand what the Patriots are doing though. You gave it a shot last year but it's quite clear their roster isn't good enough. Should've just rolled with Stidham and if he stunk, who cares, get a high pick. Picking 15th again is no mans land. And $14m isnt cheap, that's good rollover money. The box players they're getting back aren't gonna move the needle.

5 Stidham is obviously…

Stidham is obviously hopeless. The fact he wasn't given any meaningful playing time at the back end of last season when the Patriots' playoff chances were done, and Newton was busy stinking it up, tells you all you need to know there.

No teams enters a season with a blatantly hopeless cause at QB, and it certainly isn't Belichick's style. He's won Super Bowls with backup QBs. There's still a very solid O Line and defense there. I'm not expecting much from Newton, but it's possible they can create something productive with him involved. And in the meantime they can approach free agency and the draft without worrying about filling a giant hole. Not ideal, but it's pragmatic.

11 Doesnt matter

This is a team with aging stars that needs to blow it up like the Jags and Dolphins. Belichick is hopelessly chasing something his team doesn't have much chance to attain. "Backup QBs" isnt really true anymore. Their best case scenario is like 8-8. Not high to get good players but not good enough to actually compete. Realize when it's time to start over instead of wasting money to be middling.

14 The money is irrelevant. $14…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

The money is irrelevant. $14 million for a QB is nothing. There's zero long term commitment. Would you rather they spent the money and strengthened the team elsewhere this season?

You seem to be advocating the Patriots openly tanking. I don't think is something Bill Belichick would ever entertain. He won a Super Bowl in 2001 coming off a 5-11 season. He gets the benefit of the doubt from me. 

18 The point is

We know what Cam is. He's good enough to get you the 15th pick. That's not high enough nor were they close enough to competing . So, yes strengthen it elsewhere so it the future QB can have something.  

Bill needs to learn that his team isn't good enough to win now. They were 5-11 then won with a "backup" who turns out is a GOAT and goes 11-3. Cam is good but he's not that. He's gonna be 32 in May. Not all 5-11, 7-9 teams turn into SB champs the next year. You know this man. If Stidham is good, you might have something. When it's confirmed he's actually bad, you get a high pick to find the right QB with instead of trading up like the Bears did Trubisky or Jets Darnold or Broncos Lock, etc. 

19 I mean, they are getting…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I mean, they are getting strengthened elsewhere - a lot - just by getting the defensive players who opted out back. I'm not totally convinced that if they had those guys last year they wouldn't've been a playoff team. Definitely they would've been a winning team, although certainly not a real contending team.

If it's really $8M+$6M in incentives (as reported), that's pretty damn reasonable. Backups have gotten more than that. There's strong value to at least have a reasonable level of QB play to ensure that you can actually evaluate the rest of the offense.

23 We know who those players are.

They're box players in a passing league.Them going from 15th to 19th isn't worth anything in the long run. 

The arbitrary dollar amount is not main the point. It's going back to the empty well (with more money). We essentially know what Nkeal Harry is. With Cam and Brady. We know. Getting Cam back and with all these supposed great opt outs, including a FB, is sure fire way to go 9-8 and/or picking in the teens again. Purgatory. Hopefully they trade up for a Mahomes and not a Rosen.

Good for Cam though.  

56 You mean coverage?

You mean LDT and Niang opting out for the Chiefs? 

Congrats the Patriots get smacked in the WC and are picking 21st, Washington, Chicago range. IDK why that's a teams ultimate goal to be in those teams thrilling(?) situations. I guess if you're trying to prove it was you and not the QB (cough QB driven league cough)...named Brady. 

58 Duh

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Maybe he remembers as far back as 2007 and 2011 playing a WC team in the SB.

60 The OL/DL mismatch just made…

The OL/DL mismatch just made the game a blowout, but Tampa would've won regardless. Their LBs played out of their minds, and Reid's schemes principally target linebackers.

Dismissing linebackers as box players irrelevant in a passing league entirely misunderstands the point.

61 Still think you're overrating them

Chung is decent. Never made a pro bowl. Hightower is a 2x pro bowler, ok. Still not moving the needle much. Neither are great in coverage, average at best. Still not making the team scare anyone. Now Marcus Cannon, one of the opt outs, is gone.

63 I didn't say they turned the…

I didn't say they turned the team into a Super Bowl contender: I said they turned it into a *winning* team - like, 1-2 extra wins (ok, winning would be 2).

Especially because Belichick made no attempt to replace them. Like I said, 2020 was a pretty obvious tank for the Patriots. I mean, not like I don't agree with them: having $70M in a year where buckets of vets are going to be available cheap is obviously damn smart.

72 And I didn't even say SB contenders

just they wouldn't scare anyone. Again, congrats on going 9-7 and going 21st? Such a bleh place to be.

I still don't know how you think they were tanking when they signed a former MVP in Cam Newton. That doesn't make any sense. They decided to upgrade at the most important position...to tank? Because that didn't outweigh...a couple box players? Come on man. Cam far outweighs those two, even in his broken state. They clearly weren't tanking otherwise he wouldn't have allowed his team to win that last game vs the Jets. The Jets had nothing to gain as they were locked in at #2. The Patriots though could've jumped up a couple spots (in every round might I remind everyone). But they won. He increased his total wins again. That's not tanking even though they DEFINITELY should've at that point (like Philly). 

75 "I still don't know how you…

"I still don't know how you think they were tanking when they signed a former MVP in Cam Newton."

Because they said so. How many times last year did Belichick come out and talk about how they were limited due to their cap situation and couldn't do what they wanted to? That cap constraint was completely artificial - as in, they chose to do it. People said "oh, he's just using that as an excuse" - but that's garbage reasoning. They had an internal constraints they knew was best for long-term, and they stuck to it. They had buckets of space in 2021 (obviously! $70M!) - they could've trivially pushed money forward and done whatever they wanted last year. They chose not to, conserving wacknuts amounts of space for 2021 when it was infinitely more valuable.

But they didn't. They did almost nothing in free agency. They signed Newton for peanuts. They would've had trouble signing any QB for that amount! Newton wasn't making significantly more than Brian Hoyer! They had three quarterbacks under contract taking less than $4M total cap space. You're acting like they went out and targeted Newton and actually put effort into it. Newton fell into their laps. Newton's cap hit last year was equal to Chad Henne's.

"The Patriots though could've jumped up a couple spots (in every round might I remind everyone)."

Whoop-de-doo. Even the difference between #1 and #32 is exactly one player, or effectively around $7-10M in value given historical success rates. And a team that goes 2-14 has to pay a premium for every free agent it acquires. So in a year like 2021, that's bad - because free agency is where all the value is this year. This is not normal.

They weren't tanking for the draft. The Patriots are literally the best-positioned team in the league for free agency, with their nearest competitors being the Colts and the Chargers, and the Patriots have $30M more to work with.

82 Those are vastly different meanings

And it was clearly said to make an excuse for not doing well even though dead money from Brady was an actual factor from his void years. What they have now isn't what they had then.

If cap space was their priority they wouldn't have signed anyone. Instead they signed vets Newton and Hoyer. Why would they sign them unless they were trying to salvage something? So they can overpay Jonnu Smith? Because he was so intrigued by Newton being 7-8? But isn't by Trevor freakin Lawrence?

You really think the draft doesn't matter essentially. ANY team pays a premium for a free agent. You think that premium suddenly disappears because you win 5 more games? But are still below .500? Lol come on. Like I said they're already over paying. Most guaranteed money given out in the last DECADE. And it's only day 1! That's a cost! That's a "premium." Bill is clearly tryin to win to prove it wasn't Brady and that includes last year. That's on him for not realizing his core (QB) still isn't good enough to matter. 


80 Cam Newton's MVP season is…

Cam Newton's MVP season is much, much better than any other season he's had. He's been a mediocre or worse QB the rest of his career. In the past few years he's struggled with injuries as well. Signing Cam Newton was not a major sign the Pats were trying to win last year.

7 I don't get the 'no mans…

I don't get the 'no mans land' comment. A team that is 7-9 is a LOT closer to the promised land than a 2-14 team.

Let's take the last six Super Bowl teams.

Tampa Bay was 7-9 last year! While they were 2-14 in 2014. That's 1 vs. 7 seasons to get to the Super Bowl.

The Chiefs were 9-7 in 2014. They were 2-14 in 2012. Those high draft picks didn't get them to the Super Bowl that quickly.

The 49ers were 6-10 in 2017 and 2-14 a year before. They went from terrible to the SB in 3 years, but the mediocre team was still one year closer.

The Rams were 7-9 in 2015, 4-12 in 2016. So there the terrible team was one year closer to the SB than the mediocre version.

Overall, the mediocre teams were on average closer to a SB than the terrible ones.


9 I think this is a legacy of…

I think this is a legacy of Peyton Manning honestly. It's obviously a gross simplification, the Colts were perennial losers, they then made that one pick, and it transformed their fortunes for decades.

You can make the same argument for Drew Brees and the Saints.

13 That's a simplistic look.

The Bucs got an elite QB. The Chiefs got an elite QB. They had pieces around. The Patriots have neither. It's not just one year and turnaround. Those rosters were made years prior not just the last one. 

You think the Jags should've kept Bouye, Calais and signed Cam? No. That's 7-9 purgatory. Now their gonna get a top 4 all time prospect and no, they won't win next season. But 2-3 years down the line they likely will be in much better position than delaying it. Re-upping Cam is running in place and the place they're in now is disgusting and no where near a contender. 

26 Reupping Cam is irrelevant…

Reupping Cam is irrelevant because they have lots of cap space and he doesn't cost much.  It's like $8m.  



They have a great offensive line, decent running backs, a fantastic secondary, and some decent parts mixed in the front 7, with a bunch of good players coming back who opted out. And they have fantastic special teams. 


They need a significant improvement from quarterback and receivers, but *if* they get that, they're absolutely dangerous. 

28 You a patriots fan?

The money isn't the main point. 

Thuney and Andrews are UFA. James White and Rex Burkhead are UFA. Jason Mccourty is a UFA. 26th ranked D last year. 

Those opt outs continue to be overvalued it seems. A FB, a backup TE, a no name WR, a 4th string RB, a practice squad G, a SS, a LB and a non blindside OT. Only the last 3 are somewhat relevant and they aren't the most valuable positions. Temper expectations. 

A pretty big if to ask a 32 year old QB that hasn't been even a pro bowler since 2015. Gonna have to pull that out with Jakobi Meyers, NKeal Harry and rookies. Could just draft one next year but they'll have to get a good trade since they're not gonna be high enough. Like this year. 

51 I'm just still trying to…

I'm just still trying to figure out how you're okay with dismissing Hightower and Chung. No one's saying the Patriots would've been Super Bowl bound last year, but they were 7-9. Add a normal off-season and those two back and you're talking about a winning team, at least.

I mean, Belichick as much as *admitted* they tanked on purpose last year. It was one of the most blatant admissions I've ever heard from him.

I don't think Newton's a viable starting QB either, but at $5M he's perfect as a stabilizer at QB, so if they *do* draft a QB, he'll at least have an idea of how to approach things.

"Could just draft one next year but they'll have to get a good trade since they're not gonna be high enough."

Hoping to draft a QB high isn't a plan for success: even *getting* a high draft pick isn't as easy as it seems.

54 They're box players

They simply aren't as valuable as you like to think. Defenses are much more about the offenses they face then players that are near the line of scrimmage. Every team had a shortened offseason and players opt out. Pats missed a total of 2 pro bowls among those 8

You do not sign Cam Newton to tank. And that's what happened. They put themselves square in the middle of the draft because Cam is not Darnold or Minshew/Glennon/Luton bad. He's also not Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers good. Straight up middle. 

Without signing Newton (again) they wouldn't "have an idea of how to approach things?" Really? How exactly? Is that not what the coaching staff is for (since it sounds like you're implying they need a "mentor")?

It is a plan for success since it's a QB driven league. IDK how you look at Brady transform the Bucs and the Pats flail to mediocrity and think it's not. Getting a high pick is only difficulty if you...do things like this instead of just letting Stidham be bad, trade off older pieces and...oh you're the Jags more or less. But instead, you're not even Jets bad naturally, which is what happens when you get a solid but limited starter. Rollover the money and have it in the bank for when the future is ready. 

64 You've got a different…

You've got a different opinion of "tank" than what the Patriots were doing. They weren't tanking for the *draft*. They were tanking for *free agency*. The goal wasn't to lose games to get a high draft pick: it was to spend as little as possible while still making yourself look attractive enough for free agents.

Going 7-9 in a pandemic with a new QB and major pieces of your defense missing and ending up with the 2nd most cap space in the league: yeah, that worked. *Especially* because it's a year when the free agency market is crowded.

73 What?

You think that's what determines free agency? Prior season record? And not more so...what they're offered? You think someone is gonna choose NE over JAX, if JAX is offering more, because they went 7-9 and not 2-14? Because they re-signed Cam Newton, instead of drafting Trevor Lawrence? That was their plan? What a weird change of direction for a team that's valued draft picks for so long. Comp picks to be exact. 

And spending as little as possible has been my whole point in regards to this signing lol. They spent (more), when they shouldn't have. The markets "crowded?" After all the tags? 

All over the place

76 "You think that's what…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

"You think that's what determines free agency? Prior season record? And not more so...what they're offered? You think someone is gonna choose NE over JAX, if JAX is offering more, because they went 7-9 and not 2-14?"

You think that if NE and JAX offer the same, that the player would go to Jacksonville? Of course not. Which means losing means you pay a premium in free agency.

"Because they re-signed Cam Newton, instead of drafting Trevor Lawrence?"

You can't get the #1 pick by choice. You can try to tank all you want, but the players will literally revolt, because tanking murders their long term value. Yes, the Patriots could've ended up a bit higher, but big whoop. It's not that big a deal.

"They spent (more), when they shouldn't have."

It was practically impossible for them to spend less than they did on Cam Newton last year. This year, they had to pay closer to market value, but still, $5M is backup-level QB cost.

85 You think if it's the same they'll choose NE

because they had a better <.500 record? That's WHY they'd sign there? But if the records were swapped they'd choose JAX? Who thinks and bases their decision on that besides you? So many other things to base it off of. You pay a premium regardless (like already said but your commenting all over) in free agency. Oh look NE is, by giving out a lot guaranteed money. Not because they they went flippin 7-9. 

You can lead your team that way. Players can revolt all they want. But, whoops, no one in Miami cares about the obvious tank job in 2019 anymore. Crazy. In fact they signed NINE street (compensatory) free agents IMMEDIATELY after. Why? Because they ponied up the $! Just like NE is doing now! Not because they went flippin 5-11 instead of 2-14. That stuff is forgotten so quickly. 

They didn't have to spend it at all! But they did! All to end in purgatory because Newton isn't a perennial MVP candidate. Just save the few bucks for whatever and find a new QB. 

86 Because they don't look like…

Because they don't look like a dumpster fire. And yeah, if the Patriots had collapsed to 2-14 and the Jaguars were 7-9, yes, people would sign there.

This isn't like, me making crap up. It's well established in academic studies for the MLB, for instance, that there's intrinsic value to playing on more visible teams. 

"But, whoops, no one in Miami cares about the obvious tank job in 2019 anymore."

Miami tanked in the same way New England did. They got rid of guys for additional resources (whereas New England didn't acquire guys to get additional resources). And they didn't end up with a top draft pick! Oh, and Miami actually went out and acquired cheap new QBs that season as well. Why? Because if you can get a good QB for dirt cheap, eff it, you get one.

"Not because they went flippin 5-11 instead of 2-14. That stuff is forgotten so quickly. "

You're seriously missing the point. A good front office/coach/team can tank and go 6-10, 7-9. Maybe even 5-11 if you're really unlucky.

You can't tank and go 2-14. In order for the Patriots to have gone 2-14, they would've had to actively throw games. Like, play random fans or something. It wouldn't work. Players would've been like "eff this." You tank in the NFL by not constructing the best team you can, which is exactly what the Patriots did last year.

Where are all of the great teams that suddenly suck for one year and then turn things around, with no front-office changes between? When has that ever happened? Like, once? The Titans? Maybe? And it didn't even work.

87 The Dolphins LOOKED better?

With their 3.9-12.1 expected W-L?

What studies? On an entirely different league with a different salary cap?

The same way? What? That's not the same way at all lol. The Dolphins realized they were gonna be bad and SOLD. That's after they signed FitzTRAGIC to a 2 year deal. The Patriots liked what they saw and SIGNED a FORMER MVP. That's not the same whatsoever. 

How is 5 not a top draft pick? You think that's closer to 15 than 1? Sorry, they still got their guy that was QB1 when they started selling.

Cam is borderline bad. Not obviously good. But clearly an upgrade over Stidham. Just like the Rams and Colts trades this year. Congrats on the upgrade to...mediocre QB? Good luck with that!

Imagine thinking that tanking means saying "screw the draft." Imagine thinking the draft isnt a HUGE edge teams can and do utilize. What a point to miss. How arbitrary that 5-11 (the 19 Dolphins) are the good cut off but not the 2-14 Jags. Lol. Imagine thinking the Patriots are closer to the Dolphins than the Jags are in this situation. L O L.

All the Patriots had to do was start Stidham and they'd be picking higher AND have more cap space to pay even MORE PREMIUMS on free agents (the hapless 2-14 Jets got Corey Davis for cheaper per year than the Patriots got Nelson Agholor, talk about a PREMIUM). The Jags have signed more (compensatory) UFAs this year than NE. CRAZY anyone wants to sign there after going 2-14. 

Imagine thinking the point is to hang onto guys that don't have a salary cap. The POINT is keeping options open LATER, not currently because the current isn't good enough. 

Maybe you need someone elses words. You gotta be the only person to think that tanking means not signing people. Were the Packers tanking last year too when they didn't sign anyone? Oh sorry are the Colts a better comparison? Whatever, they ONLY need a QB in this passing league. No biggie. Good luck NE, going in with no QB. Good luck keeping  that roster supported by the time you find the right QB.

89 "The same way? What? That's…

"The same way? What? That's not the same way at all lol. The Dolphins realized they were gonna be bad and SOLD. That's after they signed FitzTRAGIC to a 2 year deal. The Patriots liked what they saw and SIGNED a FORMER MVP. That's not the same whatsoever."

Fitzpatrick was 6th in DVOA the year before the Dolphins signed him. He had a better DVOA that season than Cam Newton has ever had, even in his MVP season. Ryan Fitzpatrick is almost certainly a better QB than Cam Newton is now. You are right it's not the same, but not in the direction you are arguing.

92 Stick to commenting on one bad argument

instead of branching off using smaller sample sizes of DVOA.

The fact that you guys think that Bill was tanking at 68 years old by signing Cam instead of just rolling with the cheaper, worse Stidham makes literally no sense. Literally the only people that thinks he was tanking by...not signing replacements for dudes coming back healthy? Literally no sense. 

93 Belichick doesn't tank

Amazed that people would argue that because some people would tank, and because Belichick is a person, he might tank.

Belichick's Patriots went 5-11 in 2000 and then won the Super Bowl the next season.  His philosophy is that people should constantly try to improve.  Tanking is antithetical to his nature.


101 I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

Bill...signing Cam...to tank...for more free agent dollars? Literally makes no sense. Literally no one is signing there because of Cam but because they're opening up their check book and paying a PREMIUM. 

100 You one person commenting

on different conversations with me. 

You are by virtue, arguing for tanking (this is why you should not jump in in the middle convo), by saying Cam sucks when they ALREADY HAVE A QB THAT SUCKS. The signing is nothing other than Bill trying to win. How is that hard to understand? Literally no one has said he'd be the MVP but it was an obvious upgrade over Stidham.

81 Cam Newton was 31st in DVOA…

Cam Newton was 31st in DVOA last year... He is in the Darnold level of bad. I'd take Minshew over him easily. You are letting Cam Newton's one MVP season from half a decade ago warp your assessment of his abilities.

90 Nope. His rushing DVOA was…

Nope. His rushing DVOA was negative last season. Statistics don't always tell the whole story, but it's really, really hard for someone with stats as bad as Newton was last year to be secretly a halfway decent QB, as you claim he is. It isn't 2015 anymore. Cam Newton hasn't been good for a long time. There was a reason he attracted so little interest in free agency.

91 Geez

His DYAR was literally positive in rushing. And all this talk is nonsense since it happened AFTER he was signed. 

You do NOT sign Cam in 2020 to tank when freakin STIDHAM is on the roster. 

67 I'm not the biggest fan of…

I'm not the biggest fan of Hightower in a modern football defense - but he's clearly one of the leaders on the defense - and had been the signal guy for years. He's a significant loss. 

Chung is similar - good veteran player who isn't in the long term plan, but his absense meant a young guy was getting way more play than was optimal.  

And Cannon was a huge loss.  

I'm not at all concerned about the potential loss of Jason McCourty - there's plenty of good young players in that secondary.  


The Patriots have some very clear issues - Qb, receiver - but they should have a good line (even losing Thuney and Andrews), good running backs, good secondary, a bunch of young talent in the front 7, and a ton of cap space. 


I'd take the over on 7-9 without much hesitation at this point - even if Newton ends up as the starter.



Also, the OPs idea that front seven defensive players don't matter is just lunacy. 


70 "and a ton of cap space."…

"and a ton of cap space."

This is underselling this. The Patriots are literally in the best cap situation of any team in the league. They're not a disaster like the Jaguars and they have essentially the same amount of cap space. Yeah, obviously, not having a franchise QB sucks. Sure. But if we assume they draft a QB in the first round, they're not in a significantly different spot than the Broncos/49ers/Dolphins/Raiders, and yet have $30+M overtop of those guys.

If you then consider this is also the best year in recent league history to actually have cap space, it's almost like they planned this. Hmm...

74 Ceremonial leadership>talent?


0x pro bowler Cannon was such a huge loss they traded him. For some pick swaps. Not on the first two days of the draft. I guess.

Of course you're not concerned about losing CB but those opt outs tho.

QB and WR issues. Wow. Very easy to fix in this passing league. Pfft just draft Mc Jones and Armon St Brown and you're good to go. 

Of course things matter but how much. Yall seem to think QB and WR aren't as important though. That's much more lunacy, like enjoying 8-9* purgatory. 

95 sigh

(0x pro Bowler)

That's because the Pats kept going to the Super Bowl.

Marcus Cannon was 2nd Team All-Pro in 2016.  I'm sure he'd have gotten a Pro Bowl invite if he hadn't been too busy winning a title.

I mean, yeah, he's fallen off a bit since then, and his days were numbered when they signed Trent Brown, but if you're going to slag a guy, at least do so in a meaningful way. 

102 What?

In reply to by RickD

That doesn't impact pro bowl selections. Tom Brady was pro bowler and played in the SB in 2018. You think pro bowl nominations retroactively disappear based on playing in the SB?

Oh and Chung just retired. And they traded Marcus Cannon. And released Marqise Lee. That's 3 opts that wont be back. Hanging all on Hightower. 

35 I'm happy to predict the…

I'm happy to predict the Patriots will be in the playoffs before the Jags.

If your thesis is that being terrible is just about getting the QB you need, then the examples of TB and KC are even worse for you. Tampa didn't use a draft pick to get Brady and Kansas City was drafting 27th the year they got Mahomes.

48 Ok

Like I keep insinuating, if their goal is to get bounced in the WC, this move can facilitate that. If they want to be better in the long run they'll realize their roster is maxed out and not that great. The goal ultimately shouldn't be just win one playoff game. It should be to win 3 or 4. 

You're thesis is that it needs to be high pick to get a QB. The main objective is to get an elite QB for long lasting success. The Bucs got that in FA. The Chiefs got it by NOT staying at 27. QBs dont last long in the draft. That's the point. Picking 15th this year is landing them likely QB5 territory. Not great. They can trade up like the Chiefs...or the Jets...or Cardinals...or Bears, etc. Good luck. Or they could just be in control of the draft like the Jags are this year. Which, to just to let you know if you don't follow CFB, is way better position than 15th. Lawrence is a way better prospect than Mac Jones. Guess anything can happen though...again, good luck and welcome to purgatory NE. 

50 Shrug

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

Or he decides it is a crapshoot, and has a chance to hit after the first round, à la Garrapolo, Carr, Wilson, Prescott, Cousins, Brady, Romo (2,2,3,4,4,6,UDFA).

55 Ok...

In reply to by Raiderfan

He doesn't get to decide on quality...good luck on that. Hopefully you dont get...Stidham, or Lock or Jacob Eason, or Ben Dinucci, or Jake Luton, or Jake Fromm, etc (the rule). Plenty evidence about drafting QBs.

96 these comments will not age well

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I don't understand why you're putting an upper bound on what the Patriots can accomplish.  

"The main objective is to get an elite QB for long lasting success. The Bucs got that in FA."


(Has anybody told him how old Brady is?) 

103 How did they not age well?

The Bucs literally just won the SB and look prime to be contenders again, meanwhile the Patriots are still worse than Miami and Buffalo and aiming for 9-8 and more purgatory. 

Oh sorry for mistake winning with an elite QB for winning with the 24th best like Cam

17 Don't forget the Eagles also…

Don't forget the Eagles also fit this pattern. History since 2011 makes it clear: you get to a Superbowl by building up a stacked supporting cast before dropping in a QB you can extract surplus value from due to being on a rookie deal, having a rich wife, etc. It's also notable that the 49ers didn't use their high pick on a QB, instead they traded a 2nd rounder for him.

Putting a top QB prospect on a barren roster is putting the cart before the horse. You're better off loading up on mid-round players until you find a QB you're sure about, then trading up for him. That way you're not locked into taking a specific guy at a specific time. If Tua ends up not panning out for the Dolphins, it should be time to throw out the teardown/rebuild logic for good.

77 It's all about having an…

It's all about having an answer at QB. If you're 7-9 but you have a QB of the future (or you're a team like the Bucs who can take advantage of an all-time great free agent willing to sign with you), then sure, you're close. If you're 7-9 with no QB, then you're in no man's land. The state of the draft is such that you probably have to overpay to draft one, so there's less margin for error if you not only have to use a top 10 pick to obtain one but also have to trade away assets just to move up to that range.

The other problem with mediocrity is that it allows for underachieving coaches and front offices to stay employed, whether it's for financial reasons or just out of inertia. A team that is 7-9, or 8-8 and sneaks into the expanded playoffs like my Bears last year, can justify keeping the same coach and GM because they believe they're close to winning. A 2 or 3 win team cannot.

79 "The state of the draft is…

"The state of the draft is such that you probably have to overpay to draft one, so there's less margin for error if you not only have to use a top 10 pick to obtain one but also have to trade away assets just to move up to that range."

How the heck does this work? The Chiefs went from 27 -> 10 in 2017, costing them a 1st+3rd. So they burned 2 first-round picks to get a top-10 pick, going from twenty-seven. The Texans went from 25->12 in 2017, with the same cost. At 7-9 the Patriots are at pick #15. Obviously they can do an exactly identical trade to push them into the top 10 as well.

It's seriously not a big deal - you're talking about giving up an extra draft pick to grab a QB in the top-10. Whoop de doo. If he works out, the extra draft pick doesn't matter, and if he doesn't work out... the extra draft pick still doesn't matter because it's 4 years later and you probably had a few seasons that sucked anyway.

I mean - think about it. You're saying "if you're mediocre, you have to make sure you hit on draft picks better-than-average because you have to spend more on them." Sure - but if you're actually a good coaching staff/front office, you hit on draft picks better than average already. It's kinda the definition.

"The other problem with mediocrity is that it allows for underachieving coaches and front offices to stay employed,"

That's a totally separate issue. If the only way the owner can tell whether the coach and front office suck is by their W/L record, that team's got much bigger problems.

10 I don't think Brady have a…

I don't think Brady have a bounce back season with the most talented offense in the league and the Bucs winning the Super Bowl on the back of their defense means letting go of Brady was a mistake by the Patriots. Signing Cam Newton, however, was a disaster. Throwing for just 2657 passing yards as a starting QB in the modern offensive era is almost incomprehensibly bad.

Perhaps more importantly, there's not actually that much precedent for even a healthy Cam Newton being a good QB. His one great season where he won MVP obscures the fact that he has been otherwise mediocre or worse. I can understand seeing what Newton was capable of for one season, but doubling down on the mistake is a terrible move.

12 I'm not sure what the cost…

I'm not sure what the cost is though for signing him.

Keeping him on the roster doesn't preclude them from drafting a quarterback. And if they want to try and acquire Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson that's still a possibility even with Newton on the roster.

20 Newton contract

Less than originally reported. From Mike Garafolo: Cam Newton's contract with the #Patriots has a $5 million base value, according to sources: $2m signing bonus $1.5m base salary (guaranteed) $1.5m total in per-game roster bonuses The rest ($9m) is in incentives for playoffs, Pro Bowl, All-Pro, MVP, Super Bowl MVP, etc.

22 The Patriots would be smart…

The Patriots would be smart to take a long look at Alex Smith. If he can stay on the field (a big if, to be sure), they would contend this year. I don't think the Bucs would have beaten the WFT in the playoffs if Smith had been able to play. 

42 I'm surprised so many people…

I'm surprised so many people are unaware of just how awful Alex Smith was last year. Like you, I'm not trying to pick on the guy. What he did was amazing and should be commended, but that doesn't change the facts.

At this stage of his career, he probably is best served as veteran qb backup/mentor. 

97 judging QBs by win

Belichick is smart enough to know what happened in DC last year.  Smith was clearly better than Haskins, but his career is over.  He's completely immobile and that makes pass protection exceptionally difficult.  And his passing stats were actually worse than Cam's.  

If Belichick had had Washington's D-line, the Pats would have easily made the playoffs. 

52 He was awful in his first…

He was awful in his first week back, played okay-to-good in the middle, and then awful when his leg wouldn't hold up anymore. Should probably say "beyond awful" there, as those games pulled his average *way* down.

He's definitely not a 16-game starting QB, but he's a decent short term backup option.

71 It's also worth clarifying…

It's also worth clarifying that I don't actually think Smith will get signed - I think he won't have significant interest over vet minimum and he'll retire. But I don't think that's because teams think of him that way - with the cap situation as it is, good teams don't really have the cash for luxuries, and that's what a solid vet backup like Smith is.

In a normal year, however, I think plenty of teams would offer him ~$5M/yr.

49 Nto sure alex smith wluld…

Nto sure alex smith wluld have played betetr tjam T

Heinecke actually playrd. Also, Smith did nto particuarpy play well.  He helped Football Fema gut out some wins that Haskins could not have done, howver

27 At 5 + incentives

It feels like a good insurance policy before picking up a youngster.  Provide a floor for performance hopefully close to or above he pre-covid play, and have a name for recruiting fa wrs.  As a Pats fan I like it more for the price than other options.  Doesnt proscribe other moves or a rookie takeover.

33 This.  They'll probably…

In reply to by youngerthanbrady

This.  They'll probably draft somebody in the first round (Mac Jones, Trask or Mond), and let them sit a year instead of ruining them immediately like the Jets have done the last three guys they drafted.  I'm hoping the Jets don't shove Wilson or Fields out there immediately, but I don't know if Flacco's rotting corpse will allow that to happen.

78 I think it's interesting…

I think it's interesting that the team with the most knowledge about Cam Newton's health and his battle with Covid-19 is the one that saw fit to sign him. I did not understand all of the people who were so sure that his bad play in the second half of the season was proof that he's no longer even close to an NFL starter; sure, it's possible that his football injuries or other factors are responsible but it seemed absurd to me how many people wanted to ignore Covid-19 as a factor when there are people in desk jobs who are still affected months later. It's not hard to imagine that he wasn't 100%.