The NFL trading deadline is exactly two weeks away (Tuesday, Oct. 29), and analysts around the country are scrambling to pontificate on their boldest dot-connecting and hypothetical deal-making.
“What if Cam Newton was traded to the team he lost to in the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos?” Lefkoe ponders. “So he goes to a Rich Scangarello/Kyle Shanahan offense, with Phillip Lindsay and Royce Freeman, with what’s blossoming into a real number one in the NFL in Courtland Sutton. They’ve invested young draft picks in their offensive line and tight end Noah Fant. And their defense with Vic Fangio is always gonna find a way to keep it low. He has a very good friend on the team in Von Miller, and John Elway is obsessed with tall quarterbacks.”
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Why It Won’t Happen
For one, the Broncos fancy themselves a win-now team, flying in the face of conventional wisdom which implores them to rebuild. Such is the reason general manager John Elway made Ja’Wuan James the NFL’s highest-paid right tackle (at the time) and poured $54 million into the secondary (Kareem Jackson, Bryce Callahan), giving defensive-minded rookie head coach Vic Fangio the firepower necessary to compete in the high-flying AFC West.
So, too, is the reason Elway refuses to part with any tradeable assets, like linebacker Von Miller, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, cornerback Chris Harris Jr. and defensive end Derek Wolfe.
“You guys bring all those names up. I have not brought any names up,” Elway said earlier this month, via the Associated Press, adding, “We’re trying to win football games. So, no one from our side is on the trading block. We’re going to try to continue to win football games.”
For two, the cap-strapped Broncos, with only $11 million in available space, simply cannot afford to absorb Newton’s $103.8 million contract, which expires after the 2020 campaign and carries remaining cap charges of $23.2 million and $21.1 million. Not without including incumbent starting QB Joe Flacco, whom Denver has financially hitched itself to, or Miller ($13.875 million in savings if dealt; $11.750 million in dead money) as part of the trade.
For three, the Panthers would be insane to dump the three-time Pro Bowler before Newton’s injury replacement, second-year former undrafted free agent Kyle Allen, takes his lumps — and he will. One bad hit and rookie Will Grier gets thrust into action, which hardly would be ideal for 4-2 Carolina and hot-seat-straddling coach Ron Rivera.
And it’d be ludicrous for the Broncos, riding high on a two-game winning streak, to sell the farm for a guy whose own team isn’t comfortable putting him on the field. Whose own team is performing night-and-day better with an inferior talent.
Latest on Cam’s Return
Newton hasn’t appeared in a game since Week 2 after reaggravating a foot injury he initially sustained in the preseason. The Panthers have won four consecutive games with Allen under center and won’t upset the apple cart by rushing the former league MVP.
Cleared to practice following the club’s Week 7 bye, Newton has received no assurance that he’ll waltz back into his starting job, at least until he’s fully healthy. This much was hammered home Tuesday when Rivera met with the media to address Newton’s status.
“Cam has epitomized what we’ve asked of him being a captain. He’s been there in support of his teammates, he’s been around,” Rivera said, per the Panthers’ official website. “When we met, when we first got together and talked about this, we told him, ‘Hey, we’re not going to put pressure on you. We’re going to hold tight, hold the fort down, and our guys will play.’ So, until he’s 100 percent, until he’s ready to roll, we’re not going to address it.
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL