Many have penciled Cam Newton in as the starter for the New England Patriots in 2021. Jarrett Stidham has seemingly not conceded and has been impressive during the offseason.
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While both Newton and Stidham attended the voluntary workouts earlier this month, the former should be the favorite to retain his spot as the starting quarterback. While that’s the case, Stidham still appears to be showing some fight, and approaching things from a more competitive standpoint.
NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, per SB Nation, said this of Stidham and the impression he has made on the Patriots’ coaching staff over the past few months.
There is a pretty good feeling about what Jarrett Stidham has done over the course of this offseason. They like sort of his demeanor right now, they feel like there’s a bit more urgency to his operation, if you will. He’s the one who organized the workouts on the West Coast earlier this offseason. Maybe Jarrett Stidham is saying, ‘I’m not done just yet; this isn’t Cam’s job just yet.’
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Is the starting job Newton’s to lose, or will the two men begin training camp on an even playing field?
Jarrett Stidham Has a Lot to Prove
Drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Stidham was expected to succeed Tom Brady in 2020. However, the Patriots weren’t satisfied with Stidham ahead of last season, and the team signed both Newton and veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer.
After an abbreviated competition that didn’t include a real training camp or any preseason games, Newton won the competition, and Stidham was sent to third string. During the opportunities Stidham had during the regular season, he failed to distinguish himself or earn a start all year.
He completed just 22 of 44 passes for two TDs and three interceptions. His inability to take care of the football has probably led to his lack of movement up the depth chart.
What Happens if Stidham Fails to Distinguish Himself in 2021?
If Stidham doesn’t perform well during training camp, there is a chance he won’t be on the Patriots’ roster for the Week 1 matchup in 2021. Stidham will be 25 by the time the season starts, and he’s running out of time to make an impact.
Because he still has a live arm and youth, there may be a team interested in giving up a late-round pick with an eye on pulling something out of him the Patriots couldn’t. Perhaps even more likely, the Patriots could release him to sign elsewhere as a free agent.
New England figures to draft a quarterback, and they still have practice-squader Jake Dolegala under contract. If Stidham lags too far behind Newton in this year’s QB competition, New England could go with the incumbent starter, Dolegala, and a rookie from the 2021 draft.