After the Los Angeles Chargers fell short in their pursuit of quarterback Tom Brady in free agency, many believed they would turn their attention to another former MVP: Cam Newton. Newton, released by the Carolina Panthers after failing to find a trade partner, had become available for any team in need of a proven starter.
But rather than adding Newton, the Chargers instead opted to stick with returning veteran Tyrod Taylor and second-year pro Easton Stick, adding Oregon's Justin Herbert with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft soon after. Los Angeles now plans to enter training camp with Taylor as the early favorite to open the season behind center with Herbert applying pressure.
Still, the Chargers did their due diligence with Newton, at least according to head coach Anthony Lynn.
"Cam's a tremendous quarterback," Lynn said on CBS Sports Radio. "He's been an MVP of his league. He's led his team to the Super Bowl. He's healthy now from what I hear. So, Cam's going to be on somebody's roster. He's going to help somebody win a few games. But yeah, we did take a look at that, for sure."
Though the Chargers considered the possibility of adding Newton, they had limited ways to confirm his health and fit with the team. During free agency, the NFL prevented clubs from bringing in players into their facility as a health and safety measure relating to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. That factor has likely contributed to the lack of a contract for Newton, who has undergone multiple surgeries over the last two years.
Yet, Newton's health played just one part of the decision. The Chargers also have faith in their returning quarterbacks as well as the one into which they invested an early first-round pick.
"Well, I feel really good about the quarterback room that I have," Lynn explained. "Tyrod Taylor, Easton Stick, who's a guy that a lot of people don't talk about. He won like three national championships [in FCS]. His team was like 61-1. He's a hell of a leader. He's a hell of a professional. I believe he has a bright future in this future one day. But with him and Tyrod Taylor, and knowing that we had an opportunity to get one picking sixth in the draft, all those decisions came into play when talking about Cam."
Presumably, the Chargers have taken themselves out of the Newton market. If one of their quarterbacks proves to be a quality starter this season, few will question their approach. However, if Taylor falters and either of the two young signal-callers can't adequately fill the void, many will question the decision to pass on Newton this offseason.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH