How One Recent QB Decision Could Impact Cam Newton’s Patriots Future

Will Washington go after Newton in free agency?

by Ricky Doyle

Oct 19, 2020

Could a recent quarterback change in the nation’s capital be felt in Foxboro next season and beyond?

The Washington Football Team benched second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins in favor of Kyle Allen before their Week 5 game against the Los Angeles Rams. It did little to spark Washington’s porous offense, as neither Allen nor Alex Smith provided a jolt in the team’s back-to-back losses since the controversial decision.

It’s possible Haskins finds himself back under center at some point, as he’s just 23 years old and still very much a project after being selected 15th overall in the 2019 NFL Draft. But it’s also possible Washington has seen enough from the Ohio State product to know he’s not the organization’s QB of the future, in which case it’ll be back to the drawing board for the Football Team this offseason.

Which brings us to Cam Newton, currently of the New England Patriots.

Newton, who signed a one-year contract with New England over the offseason, has struggled in back-to-back starts since beginning his Patriots tenure with two straight strong showings. His most recent flop Sunday against the Denver Broncos came on the heels of a bout with COVID-19, though, so perhaps we shouldn’t read too much into his performance in New England’s ugly 18-12 loss at Gillette Stadium.

The reality is the 31-year-old still has plenty of time in 2020 to solidify himself as a franchise QB worthy of substantial interest in free agency this offseason. And Albert Breer of The MMQB speculated Sunday on NBC Sports’ “Patriots Pregame Live” that Washington is a team to watch if Newton hits the open market.

After all, Newton worked with Washington head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner during his nine-year run with the Carolina Panthers, which ended this past offseason when the veteran QB was released by the club that drafted him No. 1 overall in 2011.

Even if Newton doesn’t land with Washington, the team’s hunt for a quarterback — a search that might include Newton — could be enough to apply added pressure on New England in its own QB decision.

The Patriots theoretically could place the franchise tag on Newton if the sides don’t reach a long-term contract extension, a move that would guarantee the three-time Pro Bowl selection in the neighborhood of $25 million for 2021 while preventing him from hitting free agency.

Here’s what Breer said Sunday before the Patriots’ loss:

“I think the presence now of Washington being out there — and they won’t have a long-term answer (at quarterback) before the start of free agency, because of course the draft won’t have happened by then — I think that almost forces the Patriots, it puts them in a corner where it’s like, OK, if you don’t get Cam signed to a long-term deal before you get to the beginning of March, you almost have to tag him.”

Of course, a lot can happen over the next few months, both with regards to Newton and Washington’s quarterback situation. But Newton has said before he views this season as a “business trip,” and leaguewide developments — like the one in Washington — could indirectly affect his future in New England by shaping his potential market and consequently leading the Patriots down a specific path, for better or worse.

Hey, maybe we’ll even see Haskins and Newton essentially trade places. It’s an idea that’s already been floated by social media GMs.

Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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