According to multiple reports, NFL teams are expressing interest in signing free-agent quarterback Cam Newton. The league veteran is allegedly being patient as he sifts through potential opportunities, while prioritizing the opportunity to receive playing time and win a championship. The 32-year-old Newton made a triumphant and shocking midseason return to the Carolina Panthers in 2021 but their reunion unfortunately fell short of expectations. Newton appeared in eight regular-season contests, while completing just 54.76% of his passing attempts. Newton averaged a career-low 5.4 yards per passing attempt and threw just four touchdowns against five interceptions. The dual-threat Newton added 230 rushing yards and five touchdowns via the ground.
Despite possessing the emotions of a return to a city where Newton became a three-time Pro Bowler and MVP winner while taking the Panthers to a Super Bowl, Carolina’s new offense under Head Coach Matt Rhule represented a bad fit for Newton as he attempted to resurrect his career. The Panthers fired Offensive Coordinator Joe Brady three weeks after Newton rejoined the team and the offense struggled to appropriately pivot in the wake of Brady’s absence.
There’s a fair amount of skepticism regarding Newton’s ability to successfully play quarterback in today’s NFL. Newton has, however, expressed interest in resuming his playing career and has allegedly received interest on the open market. We’ve identified three teams that fit Newton’s criteria.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Last year’s iteration of the Raiders made good use of a dual-threat backup quarterback in Marcus Mariota by often placing him in the game in goal-line and short-yardage situations, and they could find a similar role for Newton going forward. A former Heisman winner, Mariota departed the Raiders in free agency recently for a better opportunity to start with the Atlanta Falcons following a trade that sent Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts. Mariota’s departure leaves the Raiders without an adequate backup quarterback on the current roster. It’s worth acknowledging that Vegas’ coaching staff isn’t the same one that made use of Mariota’s athletic ability a season ago but the new head coach happens to be Josh McDaniels, who had success as Newton’s offensive coordinator in New England during Newton’s lone campaign as a Patriot in 2020.
Newton rushed for 592 yards and an astounding 12 rushing touchdowns under McDaniels’ watchful eye throughout the 2020 season. It represented the fifth-most rushing output of Newton’s illustrious career and the second-most touchdowns he’s ever scored with his legs in a single season. McDaniels possesses a high-level understanding of how to get the most out of Newton’s dual-threat ability and his forward thinking could certainly conjure up a creative offensive package for Newton in Vegas, while simultaneously improving their backup signal-caller situation behind Derek Carr.
There isn’t a coach in the league that possesses a better relationship with Newton than Ron Rivera does. The Commanders’ head honcho previously served as Newton’s head coach for eight successful seasons in Carolina. Rivera and Newton were joined at the hip throughout their shared tenure with the Panthers, as both men joined and departed the Panthers in the same seasons (2011-19). They achieved a ton together during Carolina’s most fruitful runs in recent memory. Rivera won the NFL Coach of the Year award twice (2013 & 2015), Newton was named to three Pro Bowls, won an MVP honor and the Panthers qualified for a Super Bowl berth.
Newton’s prime years that made him one of the most electrifying quarterbacks to ever grace an NFL field are undeniably behind him, but reuniting with Rivera would place him in a familiar environment on a roster that should contend for a postseason spot in 2022. The Commanders addressed their less-than-desirable starting quarterback situation by acquiring Carson Wentz from the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for a pair of mid-round selections. Newton wouldn’t start in Washington but he should embrace an opportunity to play for Rivera once again should the Commanders come calling.
The Seahawks may not fulfill Newton’s wish to play for a Super Bowl contender but they could certainly check his alleged desire to receive a fair opportunity to earn quality playing time. Seahawks General Manager John Schneider and Head Coach Pete Carroll have quite the quarterbacking conundrum on their hands following a blockbuster trade that sent franchise signal-caller Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in exchange for multiple draft picks and veteran players. If the 2022 NFL campaign were to begin tomorrow, Drew Lock would start under center for the Seahawks.
Jacob Eason, a fourth-round selection of the Colts out of Washington in the 2020 NFL Draft, is the second of two quarterbacks on Seattle’s current roster. The Seahawks claimed Eason off waivers in October of 2021 and he’s attempted just five career passes in two professional seasons, one of which was intercepted. Last year’s backup Geno Smith remains an unrestricted free agent, and Carroll recently confirmed that the Seahawks have interest in adding both Smith and another signal-caller to their 2022 roster. With Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny still in the fold at the running back position, and with legitimate questions at quarterback, the Seahawks will likely be a run-heavy offense in 2022, regardless of who starts at quarterback. Newton could fit nicely into those plans.