By JIMMY GOLEN
One is a man of a million fedoras.
The other is all about the hoodie.
But whether Cam Newton and Bill Belichick can take the New England Patriots back to the Super Bowl is going to be more about football than fashion.
The Patriots have turned to the former Panthers quarterback to replace Tom Brady, who defected to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 19 years, six Super Bowls and three NFL MVP awards. Newton gets his fresh start in New England after nine seasons in Carolina, where his own MVP-winning career had stalled because of injuries.
“Bill always says the goal for any good team is to have as many good players as possible,” Jason McCourty said on the podcast he hosts with his twin brother and fellow Patriots defensive back, Devin.
“Cam Newton is a former MVP of this league, played in the Super Bowl — that caliber of a player — so I think the better players we have in our locker room, the better we’re going to be able to perform as a team.”
Newton, 31, agreed to terms on Sunday on a deal that will pay him up to $7.5 million this season, a person with knowledge of the talks told The Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the team had not announced the deal.
The Patriots declined to comment on the reports. But Newton wrote on Instagram Sunday night, “I’m excited as I don’t know what right now,” ending the post with “LetsGoPats.”
A Heisman Trophy winner who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft, Newton peaked in 2015, when he was the NFL MVP after leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. If he’s healthy, he gives the Patriots something even Brady didn’t: a mobile QB who challenges defenses to chase him and bring him down.
Brady has averaged 1.7 yards per carry while rushing for 1,037 yards in 20 seasons in New England — about two seasons worth for Newton, who picked up an average of more than 5 yards when he ran the ball. (Of course, Newton’s 10 career playoff touchdown passes are a couple of typical postseasons for Brady.)
“When you’re talking about mobile quarterbacks, guys that are tough to handle, tackle, can throw, run, make good decisions — I mean, I would put Newton at the top of the list,” Belichick said when the Patriots faced Newton in 2017.
“He makes good decisions. He can run. He’s strong. He’s hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things, beat you in a lot of different ways,” Belichick said. “Not saying the other guys aren’t a problem, because they are, but he’s public enemy No. 1.”
But since then Newton has had two shoulder operations and one on his foot, and he missed all but two games last season. He has lost his past eight starts in all, getting more attention for his colorful postgame attire than his play.
Brady, who is married to supermodel Giselle Bundchen, did his share of preening, and in his later years his outside interests seem to intrude on what had previously been a football-first mentality.
The dour Belichick tolerated it as long as they were winning, which they have done more than any coach and quarterback combo in NFL history.
Newton will get the same leeway, starting with training camp when he will have to win the starting job from 2019 fourth-round pick and fellow Auburn product Jarrett Stidham.
Because Newton’s deal is heavily based on incentives, the signing is low risk if he cannot stay healthy and even better value if he does.
“I’m never shocked with anything we do as a Patriots organization,” Devin McCourty said. “I feel like everything we do is always in the thought process of trying to win and win championships. I think that’s what it comes down to, trying to make the team better. I’m never surprised when we’re trying to do that.”
AP Sports Writer Steve Reed contributed to this story from Charlotte, North Carolina.