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NFL Notebook: If Cam Newton winds up the Patriots’ QB, pressure will be on – with much work to do

(Adam Richins for BSJ)

It's not over, but it's not looking good.

Yes, the Patriots would love to have Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback, and there's still a chance that could happen. The Patriots, as always, have left themselves enough flexibility to pounce on any possible situation that could win them games in 2021.

And make no mistake, the best-case scenario for that is for Garoppolo to land here after the quarterback dominoes finally fall — no offense, Cam Newton. This isn't show-friends, it's show business. And the Patriots are in the business of winning games after a 7-9 season and with Bill Belichick chasing Don Shula in Belichick's twilight.

If you think it can't happen because of some misguided thoughts of a locker room split and whatnot, forget that. The core leaders of the Patriots have not forgotten how good Garoppolo was here at the end of his first stint (when they privately raved about him), including those six mostly glorious quarters during Tom Brady's suspension. They know what happened last year. They know Newton last played great in 2015, and parts of '18. If Garoppolo lands here (or, say, Marcus Mariota), all the players will know the deal. Belichick found better. They are trying to win a title. Newton can either deal with it and keep working — it's not like Garoppolo's Brady or Brett Favre in the Ironman department — or could easily be gone.

But with each passing day, the odds of Garoppolo winding up here dwindle. As someone once told me about Belichick — and this was when I was reporting Rob Gronkowski could still be traded in 2018 ... when the Patriots eventually tried to trade him to the Lions — is that once Belichick