How Cam Newton’s Patriots signing affects Julian Edelman
The New England Patriots went in a different direction than they are used to under center with the signing of Cam Newton. Fortunately, the coaching staff is already expecting the addition to pay huge dividends for wide receiver Julian Edelman.
Given the lack of weapons on the outside, opposing defenses were well aware of quarterback Tom Brady’s affinity for getting the ball to Edelman in the slot. According to Charles McDonald of the New York Daily News, quarterback specialist Quincy Avery feels Newton’s versatile skill set will force defenders to respect his running ability:
“Last year, they were double teaming Edelman in the slot all the time,” Avery explained. “You’re just not going to be able to do that when Cam Newton has the ability to run the ball the way he does. He’s going to really stress some folks out when he’s on the field … Whoever the X [receiver] is, I’m imagining it’s going to be N’Keal Harry will be in a position where he’ll be able to succeed.”
Despite all the attention, Edelman still managed to enjoy a career year with 100 receptions for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns. Unfortunately, the overall lack of firepower on offense ultimately spurred some other significant changes in the offseason.
Newton’s ability to tuck and run at any given moment will spur slot defenders to take that into account when trying to defend Edelman. This should provide the Patriots with a unique advantage they did not have during the Brady era.
Aside from Newton, the onus will also fall on wide receiver N’Keal Harry after he failed to fit the billing as a former first-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Harry simply could not find his footing during a rookie campaign that saw him register a mere 12 catches for 105 yards and two touchdowns.