Finding the Best Fit for Free Agent QB Cam Newton
When former MVP QB Cam Newton was released by the Carolina Panthers in March, most fans expected the veteran signal-caller to get picked up quickly. Despite some injury concerns in the last few seasons, Cam has shown that he can produce at a high level when he is on the field. Flash forward three months to now, and Newton remains unsigned to an NFL roster. Newton was hoping to be signed by a team that expects him to come in and be the starting QB. However, with most starting QB positions already filled by free agency and the draft, Newton’s chance to start for an NFL team next season is looking rather dim. In this article, I’m going to outline four teams that Newton might still have a chance to compete for a starting job and four teams that I think he should go to as a backup.
Starter: Jacksonville Jaguars
The Jaguars are coming off a season that saw them go 6-10 and finish last place in the AFC South. Jacksonville decided to part ways with Nick Foles, whom they signed last offseason, and are left with 2nd-year gunslinger Gardner Minshew. Although Minshew showed some promise during his rookie campaign, Jacksonville should sign Cam to lead their offense. The pieces are in place for this to work, as great offensive weapons would surround Newton in Leonard Fournette and D.J. Chark. Despite losing some key defensive assets in Calais Campbell and Jalen Ramsey, the Jags still boast a solid defense with some great young talent in place. To me, Jacksonville seems like the most realistic destination for Cam Newton.
Starter: New England Patriots
With the departure of Tom Brady to the Buccaneers, it is clear that New England would be in the market for a new starting QB this offseason. However, New England decided to stick with the two QBs currently on their roster, Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer, rather than bring in a new face through free agency or the draft. While it is looking as if the Patriots will stick with Stidham or Hoyer next season, I believe that Cam would start over both of them if given the opportunity. The Patriots had the best defense in the league last year, allowing the least points and yards per game of any team. Newton would join an offense loaded with talent, headlined by Julian Edelman, James White, and Sony Michel. Although it may be an unlikely scenario to see Bill Belichick sign Newton, New England would be a dream destination for Cam.
Starter: Chicago Bears
The Bears are an intriguing team to throw into the ring for Cam Newton. This was a team that went 12-4 just two years ago and was one Cody Parkey kick away from continuing their playoff run. Chicago brought in Nick Foles from Jacksonville this off-season to compete with returning starter Mitchell Trubisky, who certainly hasn’t lived up to being the #2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Even though Chicago has Foles and Trubisky on their roster, they should still try and bring in Newton for the 2020 season. Foles has only ever been productive in his career on the Eagles, and I don’t see that changing for him next year. Newton is a more talented player than both Bears QBs and could bring this roster to new heights if given the opportunity. Newton would be joined by one of the best defenses in the league, led by Khalil Mack, Kyle Fuller, and Akiem Hicks. On offense, the Bears would have several solid pieces for Newton to work with, including Tarik Cohen, former teammate Ted Ginn Jr., and Allen Robinson. Give this Chicago Bears roster a quality starting QB like Newton, and I could see them being quite a force in NFC North next season.
Starter: Washington Redskins
The Redskins are perhaps the most logical destination that Cam Newton could go. The Redskins QB room is not exactly anything to write home about right now. Dwayne Haskins showed some promise in the last few games of the season last year, but he is still a very raw prospect with a lot to prove. The other QB on this roster is Kyle Allen, who played under new HC Ron Rivera in Carolina. Allen played below average in his 13 starts for the Panthers last season, throwing 17 TDs and 16 INTs. With neither QB having much to show for, signing Newton would ensure that the Redskins have a quality starter next season. Cam would be reuniting with his longtime coach in Rivera and would have some decent weapons to throw to in Terry McLaurin and Steven Sims Jr.
Backup: Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers would undoubtedly be the best situation for Cam Newton to come into. Newton has often criticized for being a big personality and diva in his career, which is nothing that HC Mike Tomlin hasn’t had to deal with before. Tomlin has coached the likes of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, who both have had their fair share of off-the-field distractions. Newton is a comparable QB to longtime Steelers starter Ben Roethlisberger. Cam would be a perfect backup for Big Ben, as he has similar size and arm strength to him. Roethlisberger is also 38 years old, coming off of a shoulder injury, and is on the final year of his contract. Many believe that this could be Ben’s last season, and the Steelers need to start thinking about what they want to do if he retires. With the Steelers failing to sign Andy Dalton to fill this role, signing Cam Newton would make perfect sense for both sides.
Backup: Buffalo Bills
The Bills are a team that do not seem to need a new starting QB at the moment. The gunslinging Josh Allen led Buffalo to a playoff appearance in only his 2nd season in the NFL. With Tom Brady leaving the AFC East and uncertainty in New England, the future is looking bright for these Bills to make a run at the division title next season. Cam Newton should consider joining this Buffalo team if they ever reach out to him. Newton has a history with Bills HC Sean McDermott, who was Newton’s defensive coordinator in Carolina for six seasons. Newton and Allen also both share a very similar skillset. Both are big quarterbacks with rocket arms who can make plays on their feet. Cam would be able to run the same offense the Bills use with Josh Allen at the helm. Overall, I think that the Bills would be a great fit for Supercam.
Backup: Los Angeles Rams
The Rams had a pretty big Super Bowl slump last season following their loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII. LA finished 9-7 last season, good for 3rd place in the crowded NFC West and not good enough to make the playoffs. Sean McVay and company should consider signing Newton for some extra insurance at the quarterback position. The Rams have way too talented of a roster to be going 9-7, and Jared Goff showed signs of serious regression last year. Signing Newton would give Goff some competition and perhaps elevate his level play to what it once was. The Rams are also going to start playing their games in the brand new SoFi Stadium next year that they are sharing with the Chargers. The Rams and Chargers have both had a difficult time attracting new fans once they moved to LA. If Goff is struggling and the Rams have a hard time filling seats, having Cam Newton to rely on would be a great option. He is a big name who would attract attention to the team and is a more than capable starter in the NFL.
Backup: Los Angeles Chargers
One might argue that this could be a starting opportunity for Cam, but I think otherwise. The Chargers QB room currently consists of veteran Tyrod Taylor and rookie 1st round pick Justin Herbert out of Oregon. I believe that the Chargers would be a great fit for Cam for the same reasons that he would be on the Rams. Despite only going 5-11 last year, this Chargers roster is not bad on paper. The offense is loaded with weapons like Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Hunter Henry, while their defense is undoubtedly nothing to gloss over either. Melvin Ingram, Joey Bosa, and Derwin James are just a few names that make up this talented Chargers defense. The biggest issue for this team is filling seats, and now that the Chargers are sharing a stadium with the cross-town rival Rams, this could prove difficult. Signing Newton would give the Chargers a reliable option at QB and a player that would bring in new fans to the stadium. While I don’t think that this is a realistic landing spot, it sure would be a fun team to watch with Newton at the helm.