The Confusing Case of Cam Newton
Thomas Zwiller | Wednesday, September 1, 2021
I would consider myself to be someone who has a finger on the pulse of the NFL. I spend a good amount of my free time reading about football news, watching press conferences and listening to podcasts.
So, when I finished up my 9:30 a.m. class at 10:15 a.m. and looked down at my phone to see what my best friend had just texted me, I was in shock. “PATS RELEASED CAM” greeted me as I scrolled through my notifications. My mouth agape, I went to ESPN, and sure enough, the Patriots had released Cam Newton to slim down to the 53 man roster.
This move had come mere HOURS after Patriots head coach Bill Belichick had said Cam was “moving in the right direction.” This proves that Belichick is the most ruthless head coach in sports, willing to do anything to win, aspiring to “the Patriot Way.”
It also indicates to me that Cam Newton is done as a starting QB in the NFL; the Patriots were probably the last team to offer him the position. But notice I said starting QB; I don’t think Newton is done in the NFL just yet. I think he still has value.
To figure out where Cam will go next, it is crucial to figure out what went wrong with the Patriots. I think three things went wrong in New England for Cam, and I don’t believe that most of them are Cam’s fault.
Firstly, Cam has just never really been a good fit for the Patriots. After lighting it up with the Patriots for the first three games in New England, Cam contracted COVID-19 and returned, never really looking quite right. I don’t think the styles of play fit very well. Cam Newton won an MVP from a mobile rushing QB; he is at his best when not throwing the football. The Patriots, meanwhile, ran the NFL for two decades with Tom Brady, a very traditional QB who can pick apart a defense while operating inside the pocket.
That leads to the second problem for Cam in New England: Mac Jones. Mac Jones was the Patriot’s first-round draft pick this year and is now the designated starter for the Patriots. Unlike Cam, Mac fits incredibly well into the Patriots system. It would also seem that Mac is ahead of schedule, seeing as Cam had been seen by many as the person who would start the season with Mac overtaking the position later on.
But that was what surprised me the most: Cam had always appeared to be the eventual backup. Even if he did not start this season, there was no reason for him to get cut. He was still the second-best QB on the roster.
That brings me to my third point. Cam — despite being the second-best QB on the roster — is a liability. As the backup, Cam has to be ready to step in at a moment’s notice. But, because Cam is not vaccinated, he could go into a COVID-19 protocol for contact tracing or even catch the virus. We already saw that happen; Cam went into the protocol because of a “misunderstanding.” If that had occurred during the regular season and Mac got injured or went into protocol himself, the Patriots really would just be out of luck.
For better or for worse, Cam Newton is no longer a Patriot. If Cam is signed somewhere as a backup QB, I would not expect him to stay on the bench. But Cam is still someone worth having on your roster, maybe just not as a starting QB.
When the Patriots drafted Mac Jones, I said on my podcast, “The Touchdown Rundown”: Keep Cam as a Taysom Hill player. Let him be someone fun who can distract the defense and step in as a backup QB.
The Jaguars might seem a bit out of the box, considering the Jaguars JUST sent away backup QB Gardner Minshew. And because they have Trevor Lawrence. However, I think Cam would be an upgrade on current backup QB C.J. Beathard.
The Texans are certainly not trying to win games this season. Their most significant issue will be trying to trade Deshaun Watson away and rebuilding the team from there. So, while the Texans may not want a backup, if your starter is Tyrod Taylor, it doesn’t hurt to have a decent option at backup. Cam could potentially even steal the starting job.
The Broncos are a team that I heard mentioned by the folks on the “Dan Lebatard Show with Stugotz,” and I have to say I hate the take. I think that, given the current roster construction, Cam does not fit there. I do believe you can make a case for Cam being better than Drew Lock. Unfortunately for Cam, Drew is no longer the starting QB; Teddy Bridgewater is. I DO think that Teddy is a much better fit and QB than Cam is.
The Ravens are by far my favorite landing spot for Cam. I think he is an upgrade on backup Tyler Huntley, but that is the case for most of these teams. The thing that makes me like Cam to the Ravens is that he is an excellent schematic fit. When you think of Lamar Jackson, most people compare him to Michael Vick or Cam Newton. A QB who has elite mobility and can punish a defense with his legs. If the Ravens want continuity as a contingency, see if you can’t get Cam.
New York Giants
This one makes sense to me just because it raises the quality of the QB room. Of Cam and Mike Glennon, I think Cam is the better QB. He has a good chance of being needed, seeing that Daniel missed two games last season and has yet to play a complete season in his career.
This is mostly just a dream for Panthers fans. I do not think there is a reason nor place for Cam on the Panthers roster. The franchise moved on and is now all in on Sam Darnold. Cam would likely run into some schematic fit problems with the Panther’s offense like he did in New England. In the past, the Panthers offense was made custom-fit for Cam, but has changed since then.
I do not know where Cam will go, but Cam’s conduct (and the fact that he is a Panthers legend) have endeared him to me, and I will continue to root for him wherever he ends up. And we can all hate the Patriots again.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.