While the Cleveland Browns quarterback room already has former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and newly-signed veteran Case Keenum, some analyst are urging the team to sign Cam Newton — the 2015 NFL MVP.
The momentum around the team signing Newton started over the weekend, when he was spotted throwing with Browns star pass-catcher Odell Beckham Jr. in California.
Newton is the top quarterback left on the free agent market but has failed to find any suitors after being released from the Carolina Panthers earlier this offseason. Newton was the top pick in 2011 and guided the Panthers to Super Bowl 50.
However, Newton was injured for the majority of his final season with the Panthers, finishing his season on the IR thanks to a foot issue. After parting ways with Newton, the Panthers signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal.
There is an argument that Keenum is a better fit. The journeyman QB is familiar with head coach Kevin Stefanski’s system, having the him as his quarterback coach in Minnesota. The Browns signed him to a three-year, $18 million deal this offseason.
The Browns will be Keenum’s fifth team in five seasons. He played most recently for the Washington Redskins, starting eight games before the reins were handed over to Dwayne Haskins. Keenum went 1-7 in his starts, passing for 1,707 yards, 11 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Analyst: Cam Newton Signing Would Not Put Pressure on Baker Mayfield
Dominque Foxworth pleaded the case for the Browns to sign Newton on ESPN’s Get Up, saying it wouldn’t put extra pressure on Mayfield, who is entering a critical third season.
“I think they should. I wouldn’t be concerned,” Foxworth said. “Some of the arguments for why teams haven’t brought in [Colin] Kaepernick is because you don’t want Kaepernick on the roster when you have a young quarterback and that could intimidate him. I’m not worried about being intimidated if I’m Baker Mayfield. I think Baker Mayfield responds to that challenge well.”
With some key pieces due contract extensions soon and a strong offseason, Foxworth thinks the time for the Browns to win is now, which would make Newton a better insurance policy than Keenum in case Mayfield falters or is injured.
“Some of Baker’s numbers suggest he’s an average to below-average NFL quarterback. You know what Cam Newton is not and never has been? Average or below average,” Foxworth said. “This championship window is now for this team. This roster is built to win today. They’re not going to be able to hold onto all this talent moving forward. I think Cam Newton could be a great insurance policy and maybe somebody who steps in mid-year to take this team and this offense to the level that we all expected it to be.”
Cam Newton Signing ‘Layup’ for Browns
Marcus Spears has been an outspoken critic of Mayfield and thinks Newton deserves another chance to excel because his dip in production was due to injury.
“No question. And look, I know we get enamored with the fact he’s working out with OBJ, but if you look at it, and look — I’ve been on this train about Baker not being an elite quarterback in this league,” Spears said. “I just didn’t see it. I still don’t know if he can reach that level. I think he can be formidable. I think he could help teams have good seasons, but to think that he’s going to be a guy who’s going to be championship-level, I just don’t see it.
“Cam Newton is still good. Cam Newton missed football because of injury. Cam Newton didn’t miss football because he couldn’t play the quarterback spot anymore. And when you look at all this talent, the pressure that will be off Cam Newton having to run, use his legs and create plays, will be different than any situation he’s ever been in and he’s had some good teams in Carolina. But when you line up the personnel for Cam Newton that Cleveland will have, then he will take less hits. He will be able to turn around and hand it off to [Nick] Chubb and Kareem Hunt. He will have receivers that will get open on a consistent basis. I think this is a layup to sign Cam Newton to see where he can take you if Baker Mayfield doesn’t turn out.”
After a strong rookie season where, Mayfield finished his season season with with 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%).