Once again the offseason game of musical chairs in the NFL is going to center around the quarterback position. A number of teams throughout the league are still looking for that signal-caller to lead them into Super Bowl contention and we've already seen a few fireworks with clubs trying to accomplish just that. Matthew Stafford's time in Detroit came to a close after the Rams were able to pull off a blockbuster that landed the QB in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Eagles cut bait with Carson Wentz, trading him to the Indianapolis Colts, who were looking to replace Philip Rivers following his retirement. Those moves are just the start of the action.
As we look forward to free agency and the draft, there is expected to be a great deal of QB movement. Right in the thick of all that is Cam Newton. The former league MVP signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last season to try and fill the hole left by Tom Brady, who signed with the Buccaneers. While Brady's season in Tampa proved to be a super success, Newton and the Patriots went through some rough patches. The club went 7-9 and failed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2008, and Newton's play wasn't exactly like the Cam Newton of old. Still, the 31-year-old showed some flashes of his former self which could make New England or another club intrigued enough to see if they can catch lightning in a bottle with the veteran.
In this space, we're going to highlight every aspect of Newton's free agency leading up to when he ultimately signs on with a club. Below, you'll see a list of potential suitors, a scouting report, and the latest updates on where things are trending as he hits the open market.
Top free agent landing spots for Newton
A return to New England shouldn't be ruled out for Newton, despite the lackluster production we saw for the bulk of the year. Even throughout Newton's struggles, Bill Belichick was firm in his support of the veteran quarterback and never took away his starting spot and gave it to Jarrett Stidham. It wouldn't be surprising to see that kind of loyalty bleed into the offseason, especially if the Patriots whiff of landing one of the bigger fishes currently floating around the open market. Belichick could also foresee Newton being an improved version of himself in 2021 after a full year in the system. He joined the team late in the summer, had no preseason to prepare, and was essentially thrown into the deep end in Week 1. Could Belichick look at 2020 as the learning year for Newton? It's possible.
As for another spot, Washington seems logical due to the connection Newton has with head coach Ron Rivera, who he was with during their glory days with the Carolina Panthers. Washington's quarterback situation is in a state of flux even as they re-signed Taylor Heinicke earlier this offseason. The club seems like they will bring in other quarterbacks to compete for the starting job and if Alex Smith decides to move on that should only increase the odds of Washington checking in on Newton.
Chicago is another spot to keep an eye on. The Bears are clearly looking to improve off of Mitchell Trubisky, who is heading into unrestricted free agency. That said, they may not want to break the bank too much as their backs are already against the salary cap wall. That's not even mentioning that Nick Foles is taking up over $6 million against the cap this year. Given those constrictions, Chicago could look at Newton as a low-cost, high-upside option.
While those options are more geared towards Newton landing the starting job, I do find the Philadelphia Eagles a fascinating landing spot for the quarterback if a backup role was the only thing out there for him. If Philly commits to Jalen Hurts as the starter in the aftermath of the Carson Wentz trade, Newton could be a valuable mentor for the second-year quarterback to guide him through his first full season as QB1. Newton was well-liked in New England and is well-respected across the league so his voice carries a lot of weight and could be useful for a team looking to develop a younger QB.
- New England Patriots
- Washington Football Team
- Chicago Bears
- Philadelphia Eagles
Scouting report on Newton (pros and cons)
- True red-zone weapon with his legs
- Can galvanize a locker room
- Inconsistent as a passer
- Accuracy a bigger issue than completion percentage suggests
- Won't win you games with his arm
Free agent timeline
Cam Newton won't retire, open to a reunion with the Patriots
Monday, Feb. 23: During an appearance on the 'I Am Athlete" podcast, Newton noted that he "can't go out like that," signaling that he has no plans on retiring from the NFL after a mediocre year with the Patriots. Speaking of New England, the quarterback was pretty emphatic when asked if he'd be willing to return to Foxborough to suit up with the Patriots.
"Yes. Hell yes," Newton said. "I'm getting tired of changing. I'm at the point in my career where I know way more than I knew last year."
Newton also added that he believes there are not 32 quarterbacks better than him right now, meaning that he expects to start somewhere in the league in 2021.