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The New England Patriots are making a serious push for a third Super Bowl appearance. New England and quarterback Tom Brady’s legacy will ultimately determine their value in the playoffs.

But as Patriots CEO Nick Brady recently said at the NFL’s annual meeting, one of the best possible route to a fourth ring is to land the 2014 NFL MVP, Cam Newton.

New England is trying to acquire the MVP, who has gone from being considered an NFL Rookie of the Year favorite after leading Carolina to a Super Bowl berth this season to being the subject of public criticism after a rough start to the Panthers’ season.

“You could put together a championship team through the draft or through free agency,” Brady told ESPN’s Dan Graziano last month at the NFL’s scouting combine. “I think any team could do that.”

Newton made the list of top 20 passers in ESPN’s Fantasy Football and is one of only four quarterbacks — along with Andrew Luck, Colin Kaepernick and Ben Roethlisberger — who have earned more points than Newton over the past two years.

Newton’s success comes largely as a product of playing behind arguably the league’s biggest star. That is the way of the NFL. Newton played behind arguably the NFL’s biggest star after being drafted in the second round by the Carolina Panthers in 2011.

That is the way of the NFL.

Newton has taken over as the best player in the league and is a virtual lock to be voted the MVP of the Super Bowl after leading the Panthers to an 8-5 season. It’s a scenario that has been repeated in other Super Bowl-winning teams, including the 2010 Ravens, whose Ravens teams finished 15-1 and advanced to the title game because they won the Super Bowl with an average salary cap of $106.6 million.

“Just because he’s got that big contract, his first year’s salary is going to be a lot lower, but he’s going to get his due as the MVP,” New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told ESPN in November. “You’re gonna see everybody make jokes about what an NFL MVP is.”

The Patriots own the No. 1 pick in the draft and will select quarterback prospect Jimmy Garoppolo in the first round. Whether the Patriots can be persuaded to draft