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Why Cam Newton is perfect for the Patriots

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Monday, June 29, 2020
Well hello there 👋... your pal Pete is back and it sure is nice to be with you again this morning.
We're cruising toward the 4th of July this week -- that doesn't seem possible, I know -- which means this week should bring some fireworks for your entertainment. Then again, there have pretty much been fireworks every single night for weeks on end at this point, which I can't quite figure out. I know we're all a little bored these days but do we have to be blowing stuff up on a random Tuesday night and scaring all the people (and pets) in a residential neighborhood??? Oh god, I sound like a cranky old man.
Speaking of which, a huge thank you to everyone who sent in birthday wishes late last week...and an even bigger thank you to those who sent in pictures of your porch/deck. What else could I ask for?! Oh, and shoutout to Shanna McCarriston for holding it down after I ditched you. You were in great hands as I was out celebrating, aka eating seafood, drinking beers and playing video games. I love you all, but I do not regret a thing.
You may be getting a little more of Shanna in July as I try to find reasons to use the vacation time that I have piling up and gathering dust. But for now, I'm here and I'm very happy about that. Let's get this week going with a hearty dose of sports.
📰 What you need to know
1. Cam Newton signs one-year deal with New England 🏈
By now you probably already know that I'm a Patriots fan (if not, sorry to ruin your week before it even really starts) and yesterday was an interesting day to be a Patriots fan. That's because the ol' evil empire in New England dropped a bomb on the NFL by signing Cam Newton out of no where on Sunday. That's right... Tom Brady is a Tampa Bay Buccaneer and Cam Newton is a New England Patriot. And somehow neither of those things are even CLOSE to being near the top of the weirdest things about 2020.
The Pats signed Newton to a one-year deal that is stacked with performance-based incentives and can earn him a max of $7.5 million this season. Friends, that's what we call low-risk value shopping. My guy Cam is 31 and has had his fair share of issues with injury (he underwent foot surgery late last year) so who knows if he'll be able to rediscover the type of magic that won him NFL MVP in 2015, but it's a worth taking a shot if you're New England-- especially at that price.
We still don't really know what Jarrett Stidham is a capable of, but it's probably fair to say that Cam makes the Patriots a significantly better team next year. He's the best available upgrade the Pats could afford to make right now. This is undoubtedly less money than he was hoping to get on the open market but he'll have a shot at a starting gig and, if he plays well in 2020, he'll have an opportunity to cash in next year. He's betting on himself.
As our Tyler Sullivan points out, there's a pretty decent chance Newton could actually end up being a long-term replacement for Brady in New England. From Sully's piece on why Newton is perfectly situated to take over in Foxboro:
"Does Newton actually have a chance at becoming the heir to Tom Brady? Yes. And not only that, but he's currently in the perfect storm to ultimately stick around in New England for the foreseeable future.
"The injury and unprecedented offseason forced Newton to take a much smaller deal than he normally would. Had his market been any higher, the Patriots likely would've been out of the running for him as their backs are against the salary cap wall. If he can solidify himself as the starter, however, the Patriots are projected to have the sixth-most cap space in 2021, which is plenty enough to lock-in Newton, who'll be just 31 years old by the start of the 2020 season."
Who knows what's in store (trying to predict anything these days seems like a lost cause) but I know this: The upcoming season just got a lot more interesting and exciting for me personally, even if acquiring Newton takes the Pats out of the running for a guy like Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields. I still think the Bills win the division and the Patriots end up on the playoff bubble somewhere around 9-7, but this is a big splash in what has been a largely disappointing offseason for New England, and now there's a lot more intrigue surrounding the upcoming season. thàtsGÖÖDénôughFÖRmê.
2. Which MLB teams can make a Cinderella run? 🔮
I'm still coming to terms with this whole 60-game MLB season thing. On one hand, I've been trained to believe that we need 162 games to find the best teams and establish a legitimate champion, so running less than half a season seems like kind of a farce.
On the other hand, a 162-game season can drag and each game will carry way more weight and importance this year, which could be exciting. The shortened season also means an increased possibility of an unexpected team making a Cinderella run.
Ultimately, there's a lot more unpredictability at play with a 60-game schedule, so our baseball writers got together to discuss which team they think has the best opportunity to take advantage of the circumstances and make an unexpected run:
  • Katherine Acquavella: White Sox. Chicago hasn't made the playoffs since 2008 but they're coming off a really nice offseason and are transitioning into contender status. They've got a nice mix of veterans and young talent
  • R.J. Anderson: Rangers. To find success, Texas will need to stay healthy and get some surprise performances. Both of those aspects are easier over the course of a 60-game season, so they could sneak in the playoffs
  • Mike Axisa: Blue Jays. Toronto is putting together a special young core and they could have enough budding talent to be a real headache for teams in a shortened season. They play in a tough division but don't overlook them
  • Dayn Perry: Blue Jays. See above
  • Matt Snyder: Angels. With an increased possibility that teams will use their best players every single game, the Angels become a little more dangerous. They've got high-end talent with the likes of Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. Shohei Ohtani should be able to contribute from the mound and the box again. This could be ideal for them
As you all should know by now, I'm a firm supporter of chaos... so I suppose I should probably be on board with the 60-game season, right? It's going to be unlike anything we've ever seen before and it seems as though a whole bunch of weird stuff could happen, so I'm down with that.
Yesterday was the deadline for teams to submit their 60-man player pools to MLB. Plenty of top prospects -- including No. 1 prospect in baseball Wander Franco -- are in the mix, so we could start seeing new stars emerge thanks to the expanded rosters and taxi squads. That's fun!
Also, something I've been thinking about lately: What if we all decide we like a shorter season better? Baseball definitely feels like it could use some significant changes to ramp up interest. Could this year provide somewhat of a template for a shifting MLB landscape, especially with CBA negotiations on the horizon next year?
3. NWSL returns with strong statement ⚽
The 2020 NWSL Challenge Cup kicked off over the weekend, making the NWSL the first American professional team sports league to resume following the pandemic shutdown. A couple of games were played on Saturday and there was some enjoyable action to be had (and hopefully plenty more to come) but the biggest story to come from the restart was how the players sent a message before kickoff.
Several players elected to kneel during the national anthem in order to protest racial injustice, police brutality and systemic racism. The players wore "Black Lives Matter" shirts and armbands. They shared emotional embraces with one another.
It wasn't particularly surprising to see but it was powerful nonetheless, and we'll probably be seeing plenty more of it moving forward -- both in the NWSL and in other leagues set to return soon as well.
Of course, kneeling during the anthem is still somewhat of a controversial issue to some who continue to believe that it's disrespectful to the United States and the people who have served to protect their country. As such, not everyone was particularly into the NWSL players kneeling ahead of games on Saturday, but the league's players' association released a statement on Sunday to help reinforce their message and motivations:
  • NWSLPA: "We are incredibly proud of our players for being the first major sports league to return to play in the U.S. and doing so in a safe way, while also bringing attention to the fight for racial justice. We want to make it clear that the Black Lives Matter shirts, Black Lives Matter arm bands, and pre-kickoff moment of silence were player-led initiatives. The players are unified in this statement. Whether a player chooses to kneel or stand during the national anthem is a personal decision and is not indicative of whether they support BLM or their teammates. The Players Association supports both making a clear statement that Black Lives Matter and each player making a personal decision around whether to stand or kneel during the national anthem. We ask that our supporters and media respect each player's right to handle these moments in the way that they choose and to know that our players are united against racism and in support of one another."
The lasting image from the weekend was Chicago Red Stars captain Julie Ertz kneeling and hugging teammate Casey Short, who was moved to tears during the anthem. Regardless of thoughts on the kneeling, anyone can appreciate a pretty amazing moment featuring two players coming together to embrace and support one another, which is especially important in these times.
4. Dustin Johnson takes strange path to win the Travelers Championship 🏌
A third PGA event is in the books following the restart and Dustin Johnson is your latest champ. He won the 2020 Travelers Championship over the weekend in what was a bit of a wild ride.
Johnson has looked a little rusty recently -- including some shaky moments and a rough start in this tourney -- but he successfully played his way out of a slump to end a winless drought at 16 months. Our Kyle Porter gave DJ an 'A' grade for his efforts this weekend, but what about some of the other notable competitors on the leaderboard?
Here's a glimpse at Porter's report card:
  • Will Gordon: A. Gordon isn't even a PGA Tour member but he got into the tournament on a sponsor exemption and finished third in the event, which is pretty freakin' wild. He shot a clutch 64 on Sunday and his top-10 finish earns him an automatic spot in the upcoming Rocket Mortgage Classic
  • Brendon Todd: B+. He looked so good for 54 holes but came a bit unglued on Sunday, shooting a 5-over on his last round to finish tied for 11th. There are certainly positives to take away from the weekend but his weak finish will probably sting for a bit
  • Rory McIlroy: B. McIlroy played well for the most part but his approach game was alarmingly poor, which is not something we often say with Rory. Finishing 11th while under-delivering in an area of strength is kind of impressive, though
  • Phil Mickelson: B. He had a great first two rounds but faded over the final two, which isn't all that surprising for the 50-year-old. Also, he generated quite a buzz by rocking a pair of joggers during his round on Sunday
The Rocket Mortgage Classic is next up, kicking off later this week in Detroit.
📝 Odds & Ends
 
 
Stream the 2020 Travelers Championship this Saturday and Sunday at 3:00 PM ET for free on CBSSports.com and the CBS Sports App!
Learn More
 
The National Women’s Soccer League will become the first American professional team sports league to get back to action this weekend, with the 2020 Challenge Cup. Stream every game of the tournament live with CBS All Access.
Learn More
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