The New England Patriots stole the spotlight on Sunday night by signing former Carolina Panthers star Cam Newton, who figures to succeed Tom Brady in 2020, but it turns out they were the only NFL team to make Newton a contract offer this offseason. That's according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, who said Monday the Cleveland Browns also spoke with Newton early in free agency.
"The truth of the matter is that Cam Newton did not have any other offers from any other teams," Schefter reported on his podcast. "There was nobody that was calling him and lighting up his phone, trying to recruit him to a certain city. There was one other team that did have one conversation with him. It was very brief; it didn't go very far. But the Cleveland Browns did speak to Cam Newton at one point in time. But those talks never really went anywhere. They did with New England."
The biggest surprise of Schefter's revelation isn't that Newton only got one offer. While the 31-year-old quarterback is only two years removed from a 2018 campaign that saw him score 28 touchdowns and complete a career-best 67.5 percent of his passes, Newton's finished two straight years on injured reserve and missed all but two games in 2019 due to a Lisfranc fracture. Couple those medical concerns with the fact teams were prohibited from hosting in-person physicals this offseason as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the former NFL MVP was always a long shot to land a lucrative deal outside of Carolina.
The fact that Cleveland was the other team to explore Newton, however, is notable considering former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield is entrenched as the Browns' starting QB. The Browns did make a sizable investment in the backup spot this offseason, adding Case Keenum on a three-year, $18 million deal, so it's likely they were considering Newton as a short-term No. 2. NFL Network's Mike Giardi reported Monday that even the Patriots, who landed Newton on a one-year deal worth up to $7.5M, were initially hesitant to pursue the ex-Panthers standout because of his higher demands early in free agency.