NFL: New England Patriots at Philadelphia Eagles
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Cam Newton is back on the free-agent market. Now what?

What's next?

Clearly, Cam still wants to play football. He went back to New England on a very team-friendly deal and, obviously, no promises as to what his ultimate role would be. Turns out, in the end – due in no small part to his availability issues given his Covid vaccination status – he had no role whatsoever. Which begs the question about where he ends up and in what capacity.

He didn't have a robust market in the spring. He didn't have an overwhelming summer. He lost his gig to a rookie. However, he did push the ball downfield with more vigor and he did seem more at ease in many ways and certainly a little more spry and healthy, further removed from his myriad health issues. Yeah, the MVP season feels like a long time ago, but we're no longer talking about someone on a record-setting QB contract, either.

We're talking about a no-frills, veteran minimum, incentive-laden scenario at this point. We're also talking about a player who has seen a lot and been through a lot and who isn't going to be all that interested in going to a crappy team with no hope and a poor surrounding cast. That doesn't make much sense, either.

And, time may end up being on Newton's side. He got through camp and the preseason without any injury concerns. It's not like he's been working out by himself all offseason. There is very recent film of him. If he wants to wait a few weeks to see if a starter goes down, to see if the demand increases as the inevitable injuries start mounting each weekend, that might be a sound and prudent approach, too. Was only a few years ago all of a sudden Sam Bradford was worth a first-round pick via trade; Cam could have more leverage by the end of the month.

Much will be made about Newton possibly linking back up with his former coach, Ron Rivera, and former GM, Marty Hurney (who drafted him in Carolina) in Washington. I just don't see that happening. WFT is not planning on going in that direction. And things may be fairly tepid overall, in general.

But there are a few places that might make sense. There are some scenarios that might be intriguing. Some places where his skillset - combined with the strengths of the roster and the creativity of the playcaller – may lend itself to a winning landing spot. Going ahead and getting that shot would be a wise move at this point – especially if other teams quickly find themselves in a Covid-QB crunch – and we all know Newton is a workout warrior who will keep himself in great shape. Whatever happens, this is probably his last shot to reverse the course of his career, so being judicious would be wise and linking up with a premier offensive mind should be paramount if possible.

One of these couplings would be pretty interesting to me:

New Orleans Saints

Yeah Taysom Hill might be overpaid … but the Saints have no money on the whole invested in the QB position in the short and long term. Newton doing some of the stuff Hill does would get my attention. Sean Payton loves to road grade people. Hill focuses more on special teams? Cam as the short yardage QB? Payton already has one former Heisman winning QB reclamation process going on. He's always willing to think outside the box.

San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan was adopting college concepts for RGIII a long time ago. I know they already have two quarterbacks … And I know that Trey Lance isn't going to miss much time with this issue with his finger. But what if the 49ers quickly reached a point where trading Jimmy G seemed their best course of action, and they had a suitor willing to take that salary off their hands? And then Cam slides out to San Francisco, where Shanahan has been dealing with far less accomplished back-ups for quite some time? He could create some challenging looks with the run action, and throw in how they use the fullback as well and you could have some serious beef to deal with up front.

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers are carrying three quarterbacks for now, but Swayne Haskins stumbled late after a nice start, Mason Rudolph has never shown he can be the guy and Ben Roethlisberger completely fell apart in the final months of last season. New offensive coordinator Matt Canada has deep college roots, and with an offensive line that could be a big problem again this year, forcing teams to defend a guy like Cam in the run game would clearly open some things up. Rookie back Najee Harris is going to need some help. Having two older QBs might be odd, but banking solely on Big Ben bouncing back and staying healthy might be a stretch, too.

Atlanta Falcons

They just picked up Josh Rosen … and he made the 53-man roster. They tried an ATL reunion with Todd Gurley a year ago, and yeah, that failed, but throw the fans a bone and bring Cam back home. There won't be much to cheer about and at this stage Matt Ryan stepping aside in certain situations so Cam can handle a package or special situation is hardly an insult. Drew Brees was doing it for Hill for years. Create a little chatter and buzz for a franchise that has struggled to incentivize the locals package that beautiful new stadium. Would be worth a whirl to me.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Okay this is just wishful thinking. But Cam joining Tom Brady in Tampa after lasting just one year as the Brady replacement in New England would be serendipitous to say the least. Yeah, Brady has been great on all of those QB sneaks over the years … But he's almost an AARP candidate. Give 'em to Cam! I mean what is this team winning if Blaine Gabbert had to take over for any extended period of time? Bruce Arians could find a way or two to deploy Cam. And if you want to go a winner, you couldn't do any better than this outfit. It would be a heck of a storyline if nothing else. I think Cam could rock some creamsicle, don't you?