From the dog days of life without Tom Brady to the dreams of what may come with Cam Newton have gone the New England Patriots' prospects and offseason.
The latter technically began to take shape in March when the Carolina Panthers parted ways with Newton, the longtime face of the franchise and very likely the greatest player in team chronicle.
Though hardly an unpredictable move, it still proved stunning to many and could prove pivotal to the Patriots maintaining their winning ways.
At least that's how Greg Van Roten – another former Panther and Newton's teammate for five years – sees it.
Now a member of the rival New York Jets, Van Roten believes the Panthers may rue the decision to drop Newton and he and his new team might regret it, as well.
"I was surprised, but I also saw it coming, if that makes sense," Van Roten said of Newton's release in a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. "It was one of those situations where you have this talent, you have this franchise quarterback and you're going to release him? Like, to me, that seems like an interesting business decision, because you can replace a coaching staff, you can get a new scouting department, you can get a new business side of football – when it comes to a franchise quarterback – and there's plenty of teams across the league that will attest to it, like, you better be right, because you're mortgaging the next couple of years on that decision. You know, I know Cam had some injury issues in the past, but the guy is a competitor."
Van Roten isn't the first to opine that a motivated Newton might well take the field in 2020, looking to move past two years of injury and tumult that came to a most unfitting end to his storied Carolina tenure.
While Newton's longtime coach Ron Rivera is now in Washington and Carolina is helmed by first-year coach Matt Rhule, Newton ships up to Boston to find Bill Belichick waiting.
Perhaps the greatest coach of all-time, Belichick will welcome a former NFL Most Valuable Player in Newton, who is looking to replace a former multi-time MVP in Brady.
If it clicks between the hoodie and the hats, Van Roten isn't looking forward to what becomes – or more realistically stays the same – in the AFC East.
"What does he bring to the Patriots?" Van Roten said. "It's definitely terrifying to think if Cam Newton's healthy and he's in Belichick's offense, you know, in my division, it could be a long year for the other teams, because he's a game changer. He came into the league, you know, he's a league MVP, brought a team to the Super Bowl – he's just built differently than a lot of quarterbacks. And he's a headache to game plan for. So when he's healthy, you can stop the run from him, but then you gotta defend the pass. If you can stop the pass, well then you've got to account for the run. So, it's basically, pick one thing and he'll do the other. And then you couple him with Belichick, who only cares about winning and Cam really wants to prove himself, so it's definitely a recipe for disaster for the rest of the league if they can figure it out."
Per Van Roten, there's an ominous forecast for Patriots opponents in 2020.