Cam Newton Leads List Of Possible Free Agent QBs For Patriots

It's not a great list


September 26

It’s looking like the Patriots could be without Mac Jones for multiple games. In fact, an injured reserve stint reportedly is possible after the sophomore quarterback suffered a left ankle injury in Sunday afternoon’s 37-26 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

So, it’s time to look at an uninspiring list of free agent quarterbacks whom New England could target, should it want to add someone.

In all likelihood, the Patriots will roll with veteran Brian Hoyer as their starter while Jones is out. The question then becomes whether New England will bring in a primary backup for Hoyer, or instead trust rookie Bailey Zappe with the role and add a quarterback to the practice squad for emergency depth. Whichever way the Patriots decide to go, their options won’t be great.

Here are the top signal-callers currently available on the free agent market:

Cam Newton
Age: 33
Last played: 2021 with Carolina Panthers
We’re only 95% joking with this one. Given prior reporting on the Patriots, as well as Newton’s personality, it’s difficult to imagine Newton accepting a backup job — let alone a spot on the practice squad. Despite his rough performance last season, Newton still sees himself as a starter in the NFL. Plus, the 2015 NFL MVP recently critized the Patriots for putting too much on his plate during his first and only season in New England. Nevertheless, Newton is one of only a handful of quarterbacks who’ve started for the Patriots with Bill Belichick as head coach, making him uniquely qualified to handle what the job requires. He knows at least some of the playbook and, even having lost a step, has the athleticism to run some of the zone-offense plays that New England worked on during training camp. If Newton were willing to swallow his pride, accept any role and happily watch Jones resume starting upon returning, a reunion between him and the Patriots would make a lot of sense.

A.J. McCarron
Age: 32
Last played: 2020 with Houston Texans
McCarron played at Alabama, which probably gives him a leg up on all of the other quarterbacks Belichick might consider adding. A fifth-round pick in 2015, McCarron hasn’t amounted to much in the NFL, firmly establishing himself as a backup and nothing more. Health is the major concern with McCarron, as he’s a little over a year removed from tearing his ACL while playing for the Atlanta Falcons. It’s unclear whether he’s ready to return to the field. Still, the Patriots reportedly offered McCarron a contract in 2018 and seemingly could do so again.

Brett Hundley
Age: 29
Last played: 2019 with Arizona Cardinals
Still young and still athletic, Hundley started nine games for the Green Bay Packers in 2017 but hasn’t started any games since. He was released by the Ravens in August and his career appears to be on life support. However, Hundley might be worth adding for no other reason than helping the Patriots prepare in practice for mobile quarterbacks, like Week 7 opponent Justin Fields.

Mike Glennon
Age: 32
Last played: 2021 with New York Giants
Glennon has a ton of experience, starting 31 games — including four last season — since entering the NFL in 2013. His 47-to-35 touchdown-interception ratio also is very respectable for a backup. Glennon probably is overqualified for a practice squad job, but beggars can’t be choosers in the NFL. Ultimately, if the Patriots add Glennon, it likely would be done with the intention of having him back up Hoyer on game days.

Garrett Gilbert
Age: 31
Last played: 2021 with Washington Commanders
That’s Super Bowl champion and former Patriot Garrett Gilbert to you. A sixth-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in 2014, Gilbert was released midway through his rookie season but eventually landed on New England’s practice squad. He wound up “earning” a ring as the Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. These days, Gilbert is a 31-year-old journeyman who’s appeared in games for four different teams, including making one start in each of the last two seasons. He actually threw for 243 yards and a touchdown to go along with an interception in a 2020 spot start for the Dallas Cowboys.

Blake Bortles
Age: 30
Last played: 2019 with Los Angeles Rams
The 2014 third-overall pick is looking for a job after being released in August by the New Orleans Saints. Bortles was the starting quarterback for the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2014 through 2018 but hasn’t started a game since. His limitations are well-known at this point, but Bortles has experience on his side and by all accounts is a good guy in the locker room. There certainly are worse backup options on this list.

Retired: Ben Roethlisberger, Ryan Fitzpatrick

Not happening but still worth mentioning: Colin Kaepernick

Other options

— Ryan Willis
— Drew Plitt
— Ben DiNucci
— Anthony Gordon
— Steven Montez
— Kevin Hogan
— Jack Coan
— James Morgan
— Jake Luton
— Kyle Sloter
— Brandon Peters
— Nate Sudfeld
— Carson Strong

So, yeah, not a great list. You could argue that Hoyer is a better option than each quarterback mentioned — including Newton.

It also is worth noting the Patriots as of Monday morning hadn’t offered an official update on Jones. Belichick refused to “speculate wildly” during a Zoom call with reporters.

The Patriots will visit the Packers this Sunday. Kickoff from Lambeau Field is scheduled for 4:25 p.m. ET.

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