But, Belichick's history of cheating played a factor in the harsh punishment, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
"This has been in the works", Rapoport tweeted. Even in 2018, when he struggled with a shoulder injury that required season-ending surgery, Newton completed 67.9 percent of his passes, by far a career high and ninth-best in the NFL.
Newton had been a free agent since being released by the Carolina Panthers on March 24 with one season left on a five-year, $103.8 million contract.
Due to their winning pedigree, New England can often serve as the de-facto landing spot for veterans who find themselves on the free agent market for longer than usual - which is exactly how the New England Patriots ended up landing quarterback Cam Newton. Newton remained available in free agency for much of the offseason, with teams unable to have their medical staffs examine him because of restrictions imposed because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
On the national front, Albert Breer kicks off his MMQB column with some Newton tidbits, pointing out Bill Belichick always has an affinity for players that have given him trouble. You may remember 2016 when Khalil Mack intercepted Newton at point blank range with his back to his own end zone and Mack walking it in for a touchdown in a 35-32 Raiders victory over the Panthers.
Since that season the Panthers only reached the playoffs once, in 2017, where they were beaten by the New Orleans Saints in a wild-card game. Signing Newton, who will presumably win the starting quarterback job if he's healthy, gives the Patriots offense an added layer of difficulty for the 49ers' defense.
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