Cam Newton to Sign with Patriots After Chargers, Rest of NFL Passes
Jason B. Hirschhorn
The entire NFL had months to sign quarterback Cam Newton following his release from the Carolina Panthers. Instead, the former MVP lingered on the open market deep into the offseason, raising the specter that he might not sign with a team prior to training camp.
Newton's wait finally ended on Sunday when he came to terms on a one-year, incentive-laden deal to join the New England Patriots. The veteran signal-caller will compete with second-year pro Jarrett Stidham for the right to replace future Hall of Famer Tom Brady who departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this offseason.
When healthy, Newton has played at an extremely high level, challenging defenses as a passer and with his legs. His 2015 season ranks as one of the finest years of any quarterback of recent vintage, accounting for 45 touchdowns while carrying the Panthers to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl appearance.
However, Newton's play fell in the seasons that followed largely due to health. Over the past two years, he has gone under the knife to repair severe injuries to his throwing shoulder and left foot. Those issues limited him to just 16 games over the past two seasons and contributed to his departure from Carolina.
At one point this offseason, it appeared Newton might land with the Los Angeles Chargers, who had previously fallen short of their pursuit of Brady in free agency. Though the Chargers never made a splash in the veteran-quarterback market, they did consider Newton at one point during the offseason. "Cam's going to be on somebody's roster," head coach Anthony Lynn said in May. "He's going to help somebody win a few games. But yeah, we did take a look at that, for sure."
Instead of adding Newton, Los Angeles opted to stick with returning veteran Tyrod Taylor and invested the No. 6 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft in Oregon's Justin Herbert. While that decision could pay dividends in the long term should Herbert develop into a franchise quarterback, Newton could have conceivably provided more for the club in 2020.
-- Jason B. Hirschhorn is an award-winning sports journalist and Pro Football Writers of America member. Follow him on Twitter: @by_JBH