Broncos Urged to Trade for Panthers QB Cam Newton
The NFL trade deadline is on October 29 and while there has been no indication that the Carolina Panthers plan to move veteran QB Cam Newton, the Denver Broncos have already been implored by at least one media company to pursue the former league MVP.
Newton started the first two games of this season before succumbing to a foot sprain. Kyle Allen has since started for the Panthers and has done nothing but win. Carolina now sits at 4-2 after getting out to an ugly start, and while I'd credit that mostly to the Herculean effort of RB Christian McCaffrey, Allen most definitely has been a revelation.
Not only is Allen 4-0 as a starter, but he's thrown zero interceptions since taking over as the starter in Carolina. Impressive.
On Tuesday morning, Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe proposed that the Broncos should pursue Cam Newton via trade from Carolina. We're talking about the former No. 1 overall draft pick and 2015 NFL MVP after all.
Judging from the number of questions I've received from fans on social media already, Newton might sound attractive to a Broncos fanbase that has been starved for even marginal QB play but let me explain why that would be a bad idea.
The Flacco Albatross
First off, the Broncos are committed to Joe Flacco financially, at least in the short term. The team (in my estimation) jumped the shark when it restructured Flacco's contract on the doorstep of the regular season, which freed up $12 million in cap space in the present but turned Flacco's contract into a future albatross around the Broncos' neck.
The remaining years on Flacco's contract when the team acquired him via trade from Baltimore this past spring were basically a series of three one-year deals. Where before the Broncos had no liability if the team decided to move on from Flacco after the 2019 season, now a significant dead money cap charge would accompany such a move.
Because the Broncos added two additional years to his contract, and converted a huge chunk of his 2019 salary into a signing bonus, Per Over The Cap, the Broncos would be faced with a $13.6M dead money charge by moving on from Flacco before June 1 in 2020 alone. Yuck. What a grievous miscalculation that was by GM John Elway.
What that means is that if the Broncos did acquire Newton via trade, it would have to include Flacco in the deal. The Broncos wouldn't be able to afford carrying both contracts, A.) and B.), the Panthers would have to be willing to take on Flacco's albatross of a contract.
No team is going to do that, and certainly not the Panthers in their current state. But even if we were to pretend that the cap constraints didn't exist, trading for Newton would still be ill-advised for the Broncos.
He might be 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds but Newton has really struggled to stay healthy the last few years. From a shoulder injury that compromised his 2018 season to now the foot sprain, Newton's recent string of bad luck has led some to wonder if he might be the next Andrew Luck to just quietly retire from the NFL while still in his prime.
The cycle of pain and treatment has obviously worn Newton down, like it did Luck. I'm not saying Newton is considering retirement but he has clearly been diminished by his protracted struggles with the injury bug.
Glory Days in the Rearview
Newton is not the same player who led the Panthers on a dominant postseason run that culminated in a Super Bowl 50 berth. The odds that he'll ever be that guy again are slim.
Now, that doesn't mean Newton isn't talented or that he brings nothing to the table as a starting QB, but he is a shell of his former self. Plus, even when he's 100 percent, his accuracy as a passer is extremely suspect and his pocket presence? See Super Bowl 50. We're talking about a QB with a career completion percentage below 60% (59.6).
All About Drew Lock
The Broncos need to go young at the QB position and go all-in on a hand-picked and homegrown signal-caller, a la Drew Lock. Pursuing Newton, even if it made cap sense, would be just another lateral move toward a band-aid starter.
Yes, the Broncos have the young weapons on offense, as Adam Lefkoe points out, which makes Flacco's ineffectual play all the more frustrating. But Newton isn't exactly the type of QB at this stage in his career that raises all ships. If he's still a franchise QB, it's only in the nominal sense and it's based off his resume not his current wherewithal as a player.
It'll be interesting to see how it all shakes out in Carolina. But one thing I can say with near absolute confidence is that if the Panthers officially put Cam Newton on the trading block, the Broncos won't be buyers. Be grateful for that.