Could the New England Patriots address their newfound need for a starting quarterback by acquiring a former NFL MVP?
The Carolina Panthers, in the midst of a rebuild in Year 1 of the Matt Rhule era, announced Tuesday they’re looking to trade Cam Newton.
GM Marty Hurney on the Cam update pic.twitter.com/OgjqyQiDZX
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) March 17, 2020
With Tom Brady announcing earlier Tuesday he will leave the Patriots this offseason, Newton could be an intriguing option for New England, which currently is without a clear-cut QB1 for the first time in decades.
Health is the biggest question mark for the Panthers star. Newton appeared in just two games this past season after suffering a foot injury during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium. He also underwent shoulder surgery in 2017, then dealt with nagging pain for much of the 2018 campaign before being shut down for the season in December.
Despite the injury, Newton completed a career-best 67.9 percent of his passes in 2018 and posted his second-best passer rating (94.2) while rushing 101 times for 488 yards and four touchdowns in 14 games. That mobility, while not as devastating as it was earlier in his career, would add a new dimension to a New England offense that has been led by the relatively statuesque Brady since 2001.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick has been complimentary of Newton’s skill set in the past, calling him “public enemy No. 1” ahead of a Pats-Panthers matchup in 2017.
“I think when you’re talking about mobile quarterbacks, guys that are tough to handle, tackle, can throw, run, make good decisions — I mean, I would put Newton at the top of the list,” Belichick said. “Not saying that there aren’t a lot of other good players that do that, but I would say, of all the guys we play or have played recently in the last couple of years, he’s the hardest guy to deal with.
“He makes good decisions, he can run, he’s strong, he’s hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things, beat you in a lot of different ways. We saw that in the game down (in Carolina) in ‘13, so I would put him at the top of the list.”
Newton, who is entering the final year of his contract, also would be relatively affordable for a QB of his pedigree. His current deal includes a salary cap hit of $21.1 million for the 2020 season, which ranked 15th among NFL quarterbacks as of Tuesday morning. If he’s traded, that number drops to $19.1 million.
Even that might be too pricey given the Patriots’ current cap situation. But if they believe Newton can make a full recovery this offseason, that’s a call worth making.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images