Without a question, Cam Newton should be on an NFL roster. The problem is, he’s too good to come in as a backup, but health concerns likely cause some trepidation for teams who consider bringing him in as their starter.
The New England Patriots seem to be a good fit for Newton because of their unproven and less-than-spectacular options at the quarterback position. However, there are very good reasons the Patriots and Newton haven’t come to an agreement or perhaps even had serious discussions about a deal.
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There is a hard stop on any real Newton-to-Patriots angle, and it’s based on the former league MVP’s willingness to come into a position that doesn’t give him a realistic opportunity to start. Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer gave his take on Newton’s chances of signing with a team in general.
For what it’s worth, Newton has told people that he’s not looking to go to a place as a firm No. 2 or in a mentoring type of role for a younger quarterback—and for obvious reasons. He still believes he can play, and that he is a starter. And as such, he’s willing to wait for the right opportunity, which makes his signing date pretty unpredictable. Given the landscape across the NFL right now, the most likely path to finding that shot is through something going haywire (via injury or a QB not developing as expected) somewhere else. That means the chances that Newton chooses to remain untethered through the start of camp are actually fairly good.
If you put the Patriots into this scenario, it’s easy to see why Newton might be reluctant to sign there–even if New England showed interest.
The Patriots have set themselves up to lean heavily on Jarrett Stidham moving forward, and that’s why they didn’t go after any of the bigger free agents or available veterans. It’s also why the Patriots elected not to draft a QB at all. They believe in Stidham enough to at least hand him the keys to start the 2020 season. If Stidham fails miserably, they will turn to backup Brian Hoyer. At best, Newton would likely head into the season with the Patriots on par with Hoyer, and understandably, that’s not likely to be a scenario he’s comfortable with accepting.
Expect Newton to go the Jay Cutler route.
He’ll sit out until an injury situation occurs with an NFL team who in turn becomes desperate for a veteran signal-caller that gives them a chance to win. Cutler signed a lucrative deal with the Miami Dolphins in 2017. The early-season signing saw Cutler step in and play 14 games for the Dolphins. He threw for 2,666 yards, 19 TDs, and 14 INT at the age of 34. That was the last year Cutler played in the NFL.
Newton is just 31 years old and could have far more left in his tank. If he’s going to play anywhere, it’ll be for a team that offers him a guaranteed starting spot, or at least a realistic chance to compete for the job.
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