The speculation can finally end, Cam Newton will not be playing for the Washington Redskins in 2020. On Sunday, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Newton had agreed to a one-year deal with the New England Patriots, and had finally put the Carolina Panthers chapter of his life behind him. While the Patriots were always considered the favorite to land Newton, the Redskins weren't far behind as an option.
With Ron Rivera now in charge in Washington and a quarterback who has recorded just seven career starts, it appeared like the perfect opportunity for Rivera to go sign his former signal-caller if he had wanted to. Instead, Rivera decided against it. During an interview with 670 The Score on Monday, Rivera explained why Washington did not pursue his former No. 1 overall pick -- saying that the "circumstances" were not right for the Redskins to go out and sign Newton.
"If the circumstances had allowed us, I would not have had an issue with that," Rivera said, via NBC Sports Washington. "I would've been very confident and comfortable going after him and bringing him to be part of what we're doing here."
What exactly were the "circumstances" that led Rivera to believe signing Newton was out of the realm of possibility? Was the Redskins' head coach just ready for a new beginning with different players or does he know something about Newton that we do not? In my mind, there are only two possibilities as to what these "circumstances" could be.
Newton isn't the same player due to injury
When Matt Rhule was hired as Carolina's new head coach and the franchise entered this awkward situation with Newton, there was one quote from Panthers owner David Tepper that really simplified everything. Back in February, Tepper put Newton's future pretty bluntly when speaking with reporters.
"Listen, I'm not a doctor," said Tepper, via David Newton of ESPN. "I said it a million times, is he healthy? He's not a doctor, so there's a lot of different things can happen. But first is he healthy? Tell me that and then we can talk."
Newton had to change up his throwing motion after being shut down for the last two games in 2018 due to a shoulder injury. He played in two games this past season, however, but didn't exactly impress. Newton completed 56.2% of his passes for 572 yards, zero touchdowns and an interception as the Panthers started the 2019 season with losses to the Los Angeles Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Yes, he was hampered by a Lisfranc injury, but the main concern has to do with his shoulder and ability to throw the football.
Rivera made it to the Super Bowl with Newton, saw him earn three Pro Bowl bids and watched him win MVP back in 2015. If he had a chance to go sign the same player that made him such a successful coach, don't you think he would do so? It's very possible he knows Newton is not the same player he was with the Panthers, and noticed that when his quarterback was forced to change up his throwing motion. Remember, Rivera went out and traded for Newton's former backup in Kyle Allen this offseason instead of going after Newton himself.
Rivera is confident in Dwayne Haskins
It's also possible that Rivera is ready to embrace his change of scenery and attempt to groom a young quarterback much like he did with Newton. Rivera has mentioned several times this offseason that he's comfortable with his quarterback room, and Haskins has also put a great amount of effort into improving this offseason -- even transforming his body.
While the Redskins only won three games last season, Haskins had a hand in two of those victories. In nine total games played, he threw for 1,365 yards, seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. In his seven starts, however, he threw for 1,225 yards, seven touchdowns and just three interceptions. Haskins had a bit of an up-and-down rookie campaign in all, but did appear to put it all together during the end of the season. In his last three starts, he threw for 564 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. The consensus appears to be that Rivera does indeed like Haskins, and wants to see what he can accomplish with him in 2020.
"That's the benefit of being a new head coach is that we can be patient," Rivera said. "We can put these guys through workouts and get to know what we have and feel good about it or don't feel good about it. Then we have to go out and make some changes, but until we get that opportunity to know what we have, it would've been very hard to bring a guy in who's had such a solid career, who was a league MVP at one time and expect the young guy to get his chances to grow."