Cam Newton was released from the New England Patriots in a moderately surprising move. From the surrounding reports, he was offered the backup role or a release so he could compete for a starting gig elsewhere.
What most people saw this offseason was the veteran looking ready to go, working solely on his passing game while recording zero rushing attempts. Most camp reports were positive and there was reason to believe Cam would be back under center for the Pats at least until Mac Jones was ready. However, in his limited time on the field in their three preseason games, he also showed an inability to convert a single 3rd down or red zone pass. Playing mostly with the second team, Jones was able to put up solid showings, though not exactly exciting, and won the job. Despite coming off a season lost to injury and being stuck in possibly the worst situation in the NFL last season, Newton proved he was ready to turn it up in 2021. The chance to start has now mostly faded for the 32-year-old vet, but there are a few spots that would provide a feasible path to opportunity.
Anyone with a pulse and an arm is linked to the Texans. As is with most of the commonly linked names, the move makes sense on the field. The difference is that Cam is someone that would also generate a lot of positive buzz for a team, just looking to stay out of the headlines for 5 minutes. But let’s move away from the low-hanging fruit and check out some teams with higher aspirations.
The Panthers have two quarterbacks on their roster, Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker; the former being the supposed upgrade to Teddy Bridgewater. The Panthers also have Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, two of the brightest offensive coaches in the game. This means the Panthers sought out these high-level talents just to drop Teddy B and Sammy D in front of them and tell them to win. Bringing Cam into the fold would not only open the playbook further, but it would also raise the potential ceilings of every viable fantasy option on the team as Darnold doesn’t project highly regardless. As a small bonus, it would do nothing to their expansive salary cap space and would make for a homecoming in Carolina that people would be talking about all year. It’s the only place he would get both a hero’s welcome and an opportunity should Darnold not live up to the Panthers’ expectations. I’m sure Rhule would like a fall-back plan that isn’t an XFL standout.
Prime Cam Newton was so fun to watch
— Markelle 🇭🇹 (@IcyRandleSzn) August 31, 2021
Stephen Ross “really wants” Deshaun Watson. That also means he doesn’t ‘really want’ Tua Tagovailoa. For a roster set to take the next step forward, it will never get there if Jacoby Brissett needs to step in, and Tua is no sure thing to start, whether or not by injury. Combine Flores showing he has no qualms replacing a struggling QB and a running game they want to lean on that has been mediocre, and this is another destination that offers a legitimate shot at playing time. If this move were to happen, I would feel great about any exposure to Parker and Fuller, but Waddle would take a hit.
The Steelers are loaded with offensive playmakers. They also have what projects to be a porous line and a nearly 40-year-old quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger. Though Haskins has played well this preseason, you just can’t realistically depend on him to take the reigns should Ben go down. Cam gives the offensive line some protection with his mobility and toughness, while also further unlocking the potential of Chase Claypool and reopens the door for James Washington to have an impact should he stay with the team. Diontae Johnson and Juju Smith-Schuster would drop in my rankings due to their infinitesimal aDOTs of 8.5 and 6.0 respectively, which just don’t line up with Cam’s powerful, inaccurate arm. For comparison, both Claypool and Washington were over 13 yards in 2020. As a long-term solution, I don’t see Cam giving them the same (slim?) Super Bowl chance that Ben does, but he can win some games to keep them in the race if needed.
Washington Football Team
The link to Ron Rivera makes this an easy transition. He knows Cam can run the offense and could fill in for the free slingin’ Ryan Fitzpatrick, if not just straight out take the job. Although they also have Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen on the roster, neither have the track record Cam has. Cam running Rivera’s offense on a team with a great defense in a weak division sounds familiar. Now instead of Jonathan Stewart, Corey Brown, and Ted Ginn Jr., he would have Antonio Gibson, Terry McLaurin, and Curtis Samuel. Cam raises the ceiling for Terry McLaurin, their target hog with a catch radius the size of a bus. He also does the same for rookie wideout Dyami Brown and for Antonio Gibson who would be targeted heavier in the passing game with Cam under center.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs expect to win a Super Bowl this year and if Cam can’t find a home that offers him a legitimate shot at playing time, why not do what every other aging vet does and go ring chasing? He has the arm to support their weapons, the mobility to keep the occasional backyard style pumping, and would just have to operate Reid’s early script well enough to pump out a lead that Clyde Edwards-Helaire would be babysitting. He isn’t going to run the teams like Patrick Mahomes, but I would bet a decent amount that he could run it better than Chad Henne. No disrespect to Henne, but I’m pretty sure if I said it was someone different, you wouldn’t have to think twice.
Cam deserves more opportunities, and we deserve more Cam. He’s good for the league, he’s good for the fans, and he’s good for whatever team he joins. Even if you don’t root for him, like many, many people don’t [see his time spent in New England], I hope you can at least acknowledge it’s fun to watch a guy truck stick 3 defenders on one play and then effortlessly throw it 60 yards in the air on the next.
(Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)