Cam Newton is only four years removed from an NFL MVP season, but the free-agent quarterback may find himself in what once seemed a very unlikely place to start the 2020 season — watching games from home.
After his release from the Carolina Panthers this offseason, Newton has not been able to latch on to a new home. While a number of other veteran quarterbacks have been snatched up to serve as top-tier backups — like former starters Andy Dalton and Jameis Winston — Newton is reportedly holding out for a starting role. As Sportsnaut reported and MSN cited, many insiders believe that Newton would prefer to wait until there is an opportunity to sign with a team as a starter, even if it means waiting beyond the start of the season and signing with a team when there’s an injury or some kind of other vacancy.
As quoted by Yahoo Sports, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wasn’t surprised to see Dalton sign with a team before Newton. Dalton chose to head back to his home state where he is expected to serve as a backup to Dak Prescott on the Dallas Cowboys, but Florio noted that Dalton had fewer question marks than Newton.
Newton, Florio noted, is coming off a season cut short by injury, and the travel restrictions amid the coronavirus outbreak have kept Newton from meeting in person with teams to show how his rehab has progressed.
“Newton isn’t healthy,” Florio wrote. “Or, more accurately, teams interested in Newton aren’t able to determine, with the assistance of their own doctors, whether he’s healthy. And it’s not just the foot injury that derailed his 2019 season as it was beginning that needs to be checked out thoroughly. Last year, Cam’s rehab following shoulder surgery included the debut of a new throwing motion — after eight years in the NFL.”
Report: There's "No way" that former #Panthers franchise QB Cam Newton signs with a team to be anyone's backup.
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) May 3, 2020
While Newton appears healthy in videos he has shared and reports from his camp indicate he is ready to start again after a season away, teams reportedly want to see for themselves before signing him.
If Newton does wait to find a starting role, he may not have too long of a delay. In each of the past several seasons, there have been a number of franchise quarterbacks lost for long stretches or the entire season due to injury, including a series of long and unplanned vacancies last year when Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger suffered serious injuries and when Andrew Luck unexpectedly retired ahead of the start of the season.