By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Maybe there’s a zero-point-zero percent chance of it happening. Maybe we’re fools for even pondering it. Maybe somewhere right now, Bill Belichick and Ernie Adams are cackling on a Zoom call at the hilarity of it even being mentioned.
But … what if the Patriots sign Cam Newton?
The possibility has certainly been raised before, but the possibility seemed to have increased a bit on Thursday night, as yet another potential door for Newton slammed shut when the Chargers drafted Justin Herbert with the sixth overall pick in the draft.
With the Chargers investing that kind of draft capital in a quarterback, and with the Chargers already having veteran Tyrod Taylor to serve as competition for Herbert/serviceable starter/available backup, you’d have to figure that they’re not in the market for a veteran quarterback.
Herbert was one of four quarterbacks selected in the first round, too, along with Joe Burrow (No. 1 to Cincinnati), Tua Tagovailoa (No. 5 to Miami) and Jordan Love (No. 26 to Green Bay). That’s four teams willing to invest their most valuable commodity in the quarterback position.
And so, as the 2015 NFL MVP seeks employment for his age 31 season, the number of possible landing spots continues to shrink.
The Colts went with Philip Rivers. The Dolphins drafted Tua. The Bucs got Brady. The Panthers filled Newton’s roster void with Teddy Bridgewater. The Titans re-upped Ryan Tannehill. The Cowboys did the same with Dak Prescott. Drew Brees returned for New Orleans.
The quarterback carousel has done its spinning. And now the Chargers opted for the Oregon QB over Newton.
Obviously, Newton’s injury concerns are serious. His 2018 season was impacted by a lingering shoulder injury, one that required offseason surgery. Then in 2019, he injured his foot in a preseason game vs. the Patriots, and he never quite healed. He played in just two games and was placed on IR in early November, his season over after throwing just 89 passes.
Take that injury situation, and consider that the Panthers didn’t hesitate to cut ties with the face of their franchise, and teams have been understandably hesitant to jump at the chance to sign Newton. As such … one might imagine that the price to acquire his services continues to dip.
All of which brings us to the New England Patriots. Are they certain that Jarrett Stidham is an NFL starter? Are they really invested in Brian Hoyer, who lost his roster spot last summer to … Jarrett Stidham? Probably not on both accounts.
The team may be content to roll into the 2020 season with that tandem, but if Newton was available … and if he was healthy … and if he was willing to accept a contract that was structured in a way that afforded him the opportunity to prove he’s still Cam Newton … and if the Patriots can clear the cap space by trading Joe Thuney … that all kind of seems like something that might interest Bill Belichick.
Well, perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you believe Newton — having absorbed so many damaging blows over the past decade — will never again be a great NFL quarterback. Perhaps you are correct.
But in terms of available quarterbacks, none have the ceiling of Cam Newton. None are NFL MVPs, none have a 15-1 season in their history, and none have the unquantifiable value of being the guy. (Sorry, Andy Dalton, but you do not have it.)
He’s also keeping himself busy by working out. A lot.
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And in terms of teams that might still be interested … who’s left? Would the Raiders opt for Cam over Carr? Are the Jaguars committed to either Gardner Minshew? Does Denver love Drew Lock as much as they say?
The answers are scarce. The number of teams that logically make sense to pursue Newton are equally sparse.
Would the Patriots be the one?