BOSTON — The New England Patriots have reached an agreement with free agent quarterback Cam Newton, bringing in the 2015 NFL MVP to help the team move on from three-time MVP Tom Brady, a source with knowledge of the deal told The Associated Press on Sunday night.
The one-year deal is worth up to $7.5 million with incentives, the source said. A Patriots spokesman said the team had nothing to announce Sunday night.
Meanwhile, the Patriots were fined $1.1 million by the NFL for inappropriately filming the Cincinnati Bengals’ sideline during a game last season. The league also took away a third-round pick in the 2021 draft.
The signing was first reported by ESPN.
The Patriots had been heading to training camp with 2019 fourth-round draft choice Jarrett Stidham as the heir apparent to Brady, who led the team to six Super Bowl championships since 2001 but signed with Tampa Bay this offseason. Stidham appeared in three games last season, completing two passes for 14 yards with one interception.
The only other experienced quarterback on the defending AFC East champions’ roster was 34-year-old Brian Hoyer, who has started 38 games in an 11-year career with seven NFL teams, including the Patriots twice.
The Panthers released Newton on March 24 following nine seasons, a move that saved the team $19.1 million under the NFL salary cap.
Newton, 31, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 draft after leading Auburn to a national championship and winning the Heisman Trophy. He helped the Panthers reach the playoffs four times, including the Super Bowl in 2015.
Newton, who continues to rehab from foot surgery, had a physical in Atlanta on March 23 that was coordinated by the Panthers and his agency, sources told ESPN. Newton passed the physical and is healthy, with both his shoulder and foot “checking out well,” a source told ESPN.
While the team hopes to bolster its quarterback play with Newton’s experience, the Patriots must deal with the fallout from the filming scandal. In addition of the team’s fine and the loss of the draft pick, the Patriots’ production crew will not be allowed to shoot any games in the 2020 season.
ESPN first reported the penalties. An NFL spokesman confirmed the discipline to The Associated Press.
The filming occurred at the Bengals game at Cleveland on Dec. 8 of last season. The Bengals hosted the Patriots the following week and lost 34-13.
When the taping became known last season, the team said at the time a three-person crew producing a web series titled “Do Your Job” “inappropriately filmed the field from the press box” as part of a feature on the scouting department.
The filming took place “without specific knowledge of league rules,” the statement said.
Also, the team’s statement last season said that while they were granted credentials for the crew from the Browns, “our failure to inform the Bengals and the league was an unintended oversight.”
When confronted, the team said the crew “immediately turned over all footage to the league and cooperated fully.”
At the time, Patriots coach Bill Belichick says neither he nor his coaching staff had watched any of the video footage.
“I personally have never viewed any video footage at all, anything that those production people have done, other than what’s shown on public television or something like that,” Belichick said in December.
Previously, New England was fined $250,000 and lost a first-round draft pick in 2007 for violating NFL rules against using video to steal signals in a scandal dubbed “Spygate.” Belichick was also fined $500,000.
Spygate fueled a distrust of the Patriots that persisted when the team was accused of illegally deflating the footballs used in the 2015 AFC championship game.
The punishment by the NFL in that case was also severe. Brady was suspended four games, and the team was fined $1 million and docked another first-round draft pick.