Cam Newton

Chargers coach explains why his team passed on free agent QB Cam Newton

Chargers coach explains why his team passed on free agent QB Cam Newton

The Los Angeles Chargers will have a new starting quarterback in 2020, and they even considered signing Cam Newton.

Newton was released by the Carolina Panthers in March after spending the first nine years of his career with the NFC South franchise. The 31-year-old veteran won NFL MVP in 2015 and has ranked as a top-tier quarterback throughout his career.

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There's no doubt that Newton, if healthy, would be a quarterback upgrade for several teams. One of those clubs is the Chargers.

The Chargers parted ways with longtime starter Philip Rivers in March, and they added University of Oregon star Justin Herbert with the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Herbert joins a QB depth chart that includes 2019 fifth-round pick Easton Stick and veteran Tyrod Taylor, who signed with L.A. as a free agent in 2019.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn admitted to CBS Sports Radio this past weekend that his team looked at signing Newton this offseason.

“Cam is a tremendous quarterback,” Lynn said. “He’s been MVP of this league, he’s led his team to the Super Bowl and he’s healthy now from what I hear. Cam is going to be on somebody’s roster and he’s going to help somebody win a few games. But yeah, we did take a look at that, sure."

Why didn't the Chargers sign Newton?

“I feel really good about the quarterback room that I have,” Lynn said. “With Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick -- those are guys a lot of people don’t talk about, but (Stick) was a Division I AA (star) -- he won like three national championships. ... He’s a hell of a leader, a hell of a professional and I think he has a bright future in this league one day. But with him, Tyrod Taylor and knowing that we had an opportunity to get (a quarterback) picking sixth in the draft, all those decisions came into play when talking about Cam."

The Chargers sound content going into the season with Stick and Herbert. L.A. could've opted for a veteran like Newton, but instead are focused on developing their young quarterbacks. 

One team that appears to be taking that same path is the New England Patriots. The Patriots remain the betting favorites to land Newton, but all signs currently point to New England entering next season with 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham taking over for Tom Brady as the starting quarterback. Stidham showed a lot of potential during last year's training camp and preseason, and also in practices throughout the regular season. Stidham's teammates also have been quick to praise his physical and mental talents this offseason.

Another factor for the Patriots is they have very limited salary cap space -- less than $2 million, per OverTheCap. Therefore, bringing Newton to Foxboro would be a challenge for the Patriots financially.

Lynn is right -- Newton eventually will be signed and help a team win games. He's still a very good quarterback and has a ton of experience. However, he's not the best fit for the Chargers or Patriots -- two teams that would be better served finding out what they have in their young quarterbacks.

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Could Cam Newton, Bill Belichick work well together? Willie McGinest says yes

Could Cam Newton, Bill Belichick work well together? Willie McGinest says yes

It's hard to believe, but Cam Newton is still without a team.

The 2015 NFL MVP remains a free agent after being released by the Carolina Panthers in March. When healthy, Newton is a very good starting quarterback, but he missed the last 14 games of the 2019 season due to a foot injury. The 31-year-old veteran would certainly upgrade any team's quarterback room, and there's been plenty of debate about whether the New England Patriots should bring him in.

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The Patriots lost Tom Brady in free agency and likely will turn to 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham as their next starting quarterback. One issue for the Patriots in regards to potentially signing Newton is they have very little salary cap space -- only about $1.13 million, per OverTheCap -- so he would have to take less money to come to New England unless the team freed up additional space.

There's also a question about whether Newton would be a good fit in New England. Former Patriots star Willie McGinest, who now works for NFL Network, went on FOX Sports 1 show "Speak For Yourself" earlier this week and explained why Newton and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick would work well together.

"I think Bill Belichick has handled so many different personalities that they would co-exist,” McGinest said. "It would be a great working relationship. I’m just telling you guys right now, there is a lot of respect from the Patriots organization when it comes to Cam Newton because they have played several times and Cam Newton has showed out and played at a high level every single time they’ve played. I haven't checked the numbers, but I think Cam Newton may have a winning record against the Patriots.”

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The numbers back up McGinest's claim. 

Newton is 2-0 against the Patriots. He's completed 72 percent of his passes for 525 yards with six touchdowns and one interception in those two games. He's also ran for 106 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries in his careeer versus the Pats.

McGinest also talked about the advice he would give Newton going forward in his career.

"When you look at Cam Newton, and the issues he's had, it's never been off the field. It's never really been on the field. It's been when he hasn't performed at a certain level and he's frustrated or upset with himself, or he didn't win football games. It was usually at the press conference, at the podium. We all know the quarterback position is at the podium and speaks to the media every single day. The one advice I would give to Cam is, look, you're polarizing, you're a superstar, you're an MVP. You led your team to the Super Bowl. You have to handle adversity the same way you handle winning football games. It's the toughest thing for an athlete to do. He understands that. Nobody likes losing. ... But when you address the media, you have to do it in a profession manner and you have to address things the same way you do as if you won the game. You don't have to like it, but you got to do it."

Rolling with Stidham probably is the best choice for the Patriots in 2020. At some point, they have to figure out if he can be a quality starting quarterback. But if the Patriots wanted to make a move for a veteran QB who could help them win games, Newton is by far the best choice among the available free agents.

Cam Newton odds: Patriots still betting favorites for free agent QB

Cam Newton odds: Patriots still betting favorites for free agent QB

Cam Newton surprisingly remains unsigned on the NFL's free agent market.

The 2015 league MVP was released by the Carolina Panthers in March, and despite several teams entering free agency in need of a quarterback, Newton still hasn't found a home.

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One concern teams might have about Newton is his durability. He missed the last 14 games of the 2019 season because of a foot injury. Newton also has taken plenty of hits throughout his nine-year career as a quarterback who's not afraid to escape the pocket and use his legs to make plays in the open field. He's among the best dual-threat QBs of his generation. The counter-argument to the durability concern is that before last season Newton had missed just five games in his first eight seasons with the Panthers. 

It's also difficult for teams to do physicals with players at this time due to COVID-19.

Still, there's no question Newton remains a starting-caliber quarterback at age 31. In 2018 he completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,395 yards with 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, in addition to 488 rushing yards and another four touchdowns.

So, which teams could be in the mix for Newton? Oddsmakers still like the New England Patriots as the betting favorites to land the veteran quarterback. Here are the latest betting lines from DraftKings Sportsbook.

The Patriots make some sense for Newton on paper.

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The only two quarterbacks on New England's depth chart, aside from undrafted free agents, are Jarrett Stidham and Brian Hoyer. Stidham has shown a lot of potential in the limited preseason and regular season reps he got as a rookie, but he's still very much an unknown. Hoyer, meanwhile, is best suited as a backup. The Patriots aren't making the playoffs if Hoyer has to start the majority of next season's games.

Perhaps the main obstacle in signing Newton is the limited salary cap space the Patriots have at their disposal. Unless Newton is willing to accept an inexpensive contract, it's hard to imagine the Patriots being in the mix to sign him with just a little bit more than $1 million in cap space (as of this writing). 

The Patriots are unlikely to be legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2020 with or without Newton, so the best option for New England probably is to just roll with Stidham and find out if he can be a quality NFL starter.