Cam Newton named Patriots' starting quarterback

Bill Belichick didn't wait until the eve of Week 1 to name Tom Brady's successor.

The Patriots named Cam Newton the starter during a team meeting Thursday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported per a source informed of the decision.

The Boston Globe first reported the news.

Newton earning the starting gig seemed obvious when he signed an incentive-laden deal with New England that included just $550,000 guaranteed on a $1.05 million base salary in late June.

With little ramp-up time to learn the offense, however, it wasn't a given that Belichick would hand Newton the starting gig off the bat.

As training camp wore on, it became obvious that the job would be Newton's. With Jarrett Stidham dealing with a hip injury, more and more reps went to Newton, indicating he was being groomed for the starting gig.

NFL Network's Mike Giardi, who attended Pats practices, noted that it wasn't always pretty with Newton as he was learning the system, including some errant throws and miscues, but the former NFL MVP was clearly the best QB.

Throughout the process, Belichick continually heaped praise upon Newton -- to an extent we rarely saw through large stretches of Brady's tenure. Twice in the past 10 days, Belichick publicly celebrated Newton's ability to pick up the offense and the former Pro Bowler's work ethic. In addition to earning the role of starting QB, Newton was also named a team captain on Thursday.

With the formality of naming Newton the starter out of the way, the Pats can now focus on building an offense around the QB's unique skill set, which is vastly different than Brady's. If Newton is healthy, he should help the Pats battle for their 12th straight AFC East division title.

Health will be the biggest question with Newton after he missed all but two games last year due to a foot injury and underwent multiple shoulder surgeries. If this is the year the 31-year-old finally stays healthy, the Patriots have a massive bargain at QB. If Newton gets injured again, Stidham is next in line.

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