When new Redskins head coach Ron Rivera was fired by the Carolina Panthers last December, it ended a solid nine-year run that peaked with a Super Bowl appearance and four NFC South division championships. During that stretch, quarterback Cam Newton was along for almost every step of the ride.
With Matt Rhule now in charge in Charlotte, the Panthers' new regime plans to move the organization in a different direction. That became even more apparent on Tuesday when the organization announced they would give permission to Newton to seek a trade. Newton has since said this trade request came from the team, not him.
And based on one quote from Rivera last month, there's plenty of reason to think the new Redskins man in charge may be interested in a reunion with his former QB.
"I just know a healthy Cam, I would never bet against him," Rivera said during a yard sale charity event in Charlotte last month.
Should Newton be moved by Carolina this offseason, both the Rivera era and the Newton era in Carolina will have started, and concluded, at relatively the same time. Rivera took over as Panthers head coach in January of 2011, and Newton was his first draft choice when they selected him with the top pick a few months later. Newton was named the Week 1 starter as a rookie and held control of the job ever since.
The duo grew together over the next nine years. They found plenty of success, winning four division titles and reaching a Super Bowl. A lot of Carolina's success this past decade has to do with Rivera and Newton at the forefront.
Bringing in Newton to Washington wouldn't be exactly shocking, either. Since he's taken over as Redskins head coach, Rivera has been adamant about wanting to bring in competition at the QB position. Rivera has been complimented second-year passer Dwayne Haskins, but certainly is set on making him earn the starting job.
During his introductory press conference, Rivera was asked about Haskins' growth. Rivera brought up his time with Newton and how they had a plan for his development in Carolina.
"I think [Haskins] can be a franchise-style quarterback. I really do. It's a process, though," Rivera said. "I was fortunate that several years ago, we drafted a guy as the No. 1 pick, and we had a plan. What we're trying to do right now is develop a plan for [Haskins'] development as we move forward."
Immediately after that statement, Rivera mentioned there are several veteran quarterbacks the team would like to bring in to compete. At the time, he probably didn't expect Newton to be available. But now that he is, would Rivera be at least slightly interested?
As for Newton, a likely major reason the Panthers want to move on from the former MVP is due to his health. He's missed 16 games over the past two years with multiple injuries, including a foot injury that sidelined him for 14 games a year ago. His last full season came in 2017 when the Panthers went 11-5 and earned a playoff spot.
With just one year remaining on his deal, the Redskins likely could trade for Newton, should they choose to do so. Although it's just one season, Newton comes with an expensive price tag, and the Redskins don't exactly have a ton of draft capital to part with, either.
As Rivera continues to build his new staff, he's brought many people from Charlotte up north on I-95 to Washington. Could Cam Newton be next?
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