By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The reality of the quarterback market has finally hit Cam Newton.
Unable to find a trade partner while still with the Carolina Panthers, Newton first found himself truly on the outs with the Panthers by way of a Mar. 24 release. And a month and a half later — and without a clear starting job available — Newton remains on the market.
It’s enough for Newton to change his stance on his desires for 2020, according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
“The thought process has been along that Newton wants to be a starter. He does want to be a starter. A former MVP, he should be a starter, but the reality is that there’s not any starter jobs available,” Rapoport said on Thursday. “My understanding is that Cam Newton has not ruled out taking a backup job in the right situation. Remains to be seen where and when that would be.
“But obviously Newton, still unemployed, really only has two choices: take a potentially prime backup job right now or wait until another starter gets injured which may or may not come.”
Newton changing his stance on starting opens the door to one question: Does this mean that the Patriots would or should come calling? But the answer feels pretty simple here. And it’s a no.
Having made over $120 million in his nine-year NFL career, money may not be the driving force of Newton’s next stop. Hell, he could take a Winston-esque $1.1 million payday if it meant putting himself in the best position and he’d essentially make his money back in 2021 should he make the most of his opportunity. But even after the 2020 NFL Draft, and with seven of their rookies still unsigned, the Patriots find themselves working through an obvious cap space issue. The Patriots could trim elsewhere to create some space for Newton, of course, but there’s almost no point in doing that to add a backup who may or may not work out for your team. If the Patriots are indeed returning to a throwback, team-first concept that’s heavily focused on grinding wins out, every piece counts.
Money-wise, even as a backup, it just doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Same goes for Newton’s fit as a superior option than what they already have on their roster.
In action for just two games last year (both losses), the 30-year-old Newton has actually lost eight straight starts dating back to the 2018 season. Seriously. Newton hasn’t won a start since Nov. 4, 2018. Nov. 4, 2018! Over that eight-game losing streak spanning two seasons, Newton’s thrown nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions. If the Patriots weren’t interested in Andy Dalton, who even in a bottoming-out season with the Bengals was better (and healthier) than Newton, why would Newton be on their radar?
It just doesn’t seem to mesh with what the Patriots are clearly going for based on their free agent and drafting inactivity, really, as the organization seems fully on board with putting second-year pro Jarrett Stidham in the best possible situation to succeed as the club’s starter. And if he fails, he seem more than committed to trying to make it worth with veteran Brian Hoyer, who is back for his third tour of duty in the New England system.
“I like both those players,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of his quarterbacks last month. “We’ve had Brian a couple times. I think he certainly gives us a very solid level of play. We have a lot of confidence in him. And Jarrett had a good year last year. He improved a lot. We’ll see where that takes him.
“I have confidence in both players.”
Oh, and there’s also the fact that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, who interviewed for the Panthers’ vacant head coaching job this past offseason, wasn’t that high on Newton, according to Panthers beat reporter Joe Person.
So while Newton is willing to accept a backup gig in the right place, it remains difficult to see it coming at Patriot Place.