Despite being only 30 years old and slightly more than four years removed from a 2015 NFL season where he won MVP honors, Cam Newton is still an unsigned free agent. The New England Patriots are among the teams that are frequently linked to the former Carolina Panthers star, but as the latest rumors suggest, there are a few reasons the organization isn’t currently interested in signing him and giving him a chance to play as a No. 1 quarterback.
Citing a story from The Athletic‘s Joseph Person and Jeff Howe, Bleacher Report wrote on Wednesday that the Patriots are still sold on second-year man Jarrett Stidham as the heir apparent to Tom Brady — who has since signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers — and only have about $1 million in salary-cap space, thus preventing them from making a satisfactory offer for Newton.
One other rumored reason, as reported, was Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ assessment of Newton. Per The Athletic, he “wasn’t necessarily high” on the former No. 1 overall pick when he was still in the running for the Panthers’ coaching job previously held by Ron Rivera. Separately, Sports Illustrated cited that same article, which stated that the talk regarding New England head coach Bill Belichick being impressed with the ex-Panthers star has been a bit “overblown.”
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) April 30, 2020
The Athletic‘s Person and Howe also backed up rumors suggesting that Newton doesn’t have any interest in signing if it means having to play a backup role, and would rather wait for someone to get injured and sign midway through the 2020 season as that quarterback’s replacement.
“Even if Stidham were to suffer an injury, it seems as if McDaniels would want to look in a different direction given this report,” Bleacher Report wrote, commenting on the rumors.
As shown on his Pro Football Reference player page, Newton’s career stats include 182 touchdown passes, 108 interceptions, 29,041 passing yards, 4,806 rushing yards, and 58 rushing touchdowns. He was, however, sidelined for most of the 2019 season, where he lost both his games as a starter and threw one interception with no touchdown passes for 572 yards.
Aside from the Patriots, the Jacksonville Jaguars have also been associated with Newton in recent weeks. Last month, Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette appeared on ESPN’s First Take, where he seemingly made a case for his team signing Newton. He mentioned the veteran quarterback’s Super Bowl credentials with the Panthers, also hinting that a “friendly competition” between him and erstwhile starter Gardner Minshew could “[bring] out the best in people.”