When healthy, Cam Newton is probably still a good bet to be a quality starting quarterback in this league.
But at a time when no one can really work a player out or even get reliable physicals performed (much less the kinds of workouts and physicals that would be necessary to fully evaluate the status of Newton’s shoulder and foot), it was impossible to imagine a team trading for Newton. Throw in the fact that the Panthers told the world they were moving on before any kind of deal had been consummated, and you knew what was coming.
Today, the Panthers will be releasing their former MVP:
— NFL (@NFL) March 24, 2020
Turning 31 in May, and having his last two seasons cut short by injuries requiring surgery (shoulder, foot), Newton’s free agency will be an interesting one. He’ll be competing with another buy-low, hope-for-upside type in Jameis Winston, and the market of possible suitors has shrunk considerably over the past week. Newton, like Wintson, may not be able to walk immediately into a starting job.
Indeed, it turns out – as we speculated – the Panthers tried to create a market for Newton with the Bears last week:
The #Panthers tried to send Cam Newton to the #Bears and #Chargers. They found no takers and at this point, no starting jobs available. Release was the only option. Carolina has just $2M in dead money with this release, but Cam is now free.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 24, 2020
Even setting aside the fact that the Bears were pretty clearly locked onto Nick Foles, they reportedly had concerns about Newton’s health that would preclude a trade right now. Not only would that mean the Bears wouldn’t give up any kind of value in trade for Newton (why trade value for a guy with big health questions who is going to be released?), but it also would mean the Bears weren’t going to commit to Newton right now as the “other” quarterback alongside Mitch Trubisky. The Bears needed a guy they knew could be the day one starter if they decide sooner rather than later it’s time to pull the plug on Trubisky. We can (and will!) debate whether Foles should’ve been their choice for that role, but it now seems clear that Newton came with much more risk.
So we’ll see where Newton lands when the second round of quarterback maneuvering takes place. It’s still not hard to see him landing with the Chargers, where he could compete with Tyrod Taylor for the near-term starter job. Hey, maybe Bill Belichick wants to see if Newton could be the next big thing in New England? I would watch that.
With the Bears, even in a world where they suddenly move Trubisky out for a late-round pick (no, I don’t see that happening), I’m not sure they’d consider bringing in Newton to compete with Foles. We still don’t know the exact contract structure with Foles, so that’s an unknown factor in this conversation, but I tend to think the Bears are pretty content to have Foles in place to push/compete with Trubisky, while also using one of their picks this year on a developmental quarterback. Plus, you still have the open-ended question about the medical situation with Newton, and I don’t know how you could commit dollars to him – even as a back-up/competition – until you can really work him out.
All that said, you do wonder: were the Panthers trying to push Newton to the Bears solely because they (and maybe he) wanted it? Or did they know, at least at some superficial level, that the Bears also kinda liked Newton?