In an offseason that has been entirely virtual for the NFL, a lot of big-name quarterbacks have switched teams. Among the quarterbacks that switched teams are Tom Brady (Buccaneers), Phillip Rivers (Panthers), Marcus Mariota (Raiders), Case Keenum (Browns), Jameis Winston (Saints), Teddy Bridgewater (Panthers) and Andy Dalton (Cowboys).
Notably absent from the list is the 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton, who was released by the Carolina Panthers on March 24, 2020, after spending nine years with the franchise. The Panthers brought in new Head Coach Matt Rhule (former Temple head football coach). The new regiment in town was looking for their own player, so the Panthers decided to sign free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year $63 million contract. The Panther’s decision to release Newton is understandable because they were looking for a fresh start. On the other hand, the fact that Newton remains a free agent still is hard to believe.
Since entering the league in 2011 as the first overall pick, Newton has made three pro bowls, won an MVP award in 2015, led his team to the Superbowl in 2011 and has so far thrown 182 touchdowns. Not to mention Newton as a starter has a win-loss record of 68-55. That’s a very solid record for a quarterback. There are a number of quarterbacks starting in the league that don’t even come close to having the winning record that Newton has enjoyed.
Given Newton’s success as a starter, it’s hard to understand why other teams, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, have not reached out. The Steelers make sense for Newton to be a backup, as Ben Roethlisberger has been hit by the injury bug in recent seasons and the Steelers haven’t had success with unproven backups Mason Rudolph and Devlin “Duck” Hodges. The Jaguars also make sense for Newton because the only reliable quarterback on the roster is Gardner Minshew, who is entering his second season.
The team that makes the most sense is the New England Patriots. The Patriots are slated to have second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham to be the starter. Stidham for his career has only four passing attempts in the regular season. Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is showing a lot of confidence in a player with zero NFL experience. Is Belichick showing faith in Stidham or ignorance towards Newton? Recently, an article from Fansided suggested that the reason for the Patriots not signing Newtown is because Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels is not fond of him. McDaniels has only enjoyed NFL success with Tom Brady as a QB, so he may want to weigh the Stidham vs Newton history.
There were reports that also suggested that Newton will only sign with a team if he’s promised the starter position. That notion was quickly shut down when NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported, “He does want to be a starter, former MVP, he should be a starter, but the reality is that there just aren’t any starting jobs available, so now — maybe a little bit of a shift in philosophy here — my understanding is that Cam Newton has not ruled out taking a backup job in the right situation. It remains to be seen where and when that will be, but obviously, Newton is still unemployed and really only has two choices: take a potentially prime backup job right now or wait until another starter gets injured, which may or may not come.” (CBS)
Regardless of where Newton signs, that team will be getting an established veteran with starting experience and supreme confidence in his abilities.