Typically when NFL teams with a franchise quarterback sign a veteran backup, the transaction slides under the radar and disappears with minimal fanfare.
In the case of the Seahawks, some fans may not even realize the franchise has had a different player holding a clipboard on the sidelines each of the past four seasons. Since the late Tarvaris Jackson departed following the 2015 season, the team has played musical chairs behind All-Pro quarterback Russell Wilson.
But earlier this week, the Saints made unusual headlines signing a marquee name quarterback in Jameis Winston to a one-year deal, taking a chance on the former No. 1 overall pick out of Florida State. Heading to a one-time division rival, he will be competing against Taysom Hill to win the backup job behind Drew Brees after the Buccaneers opted to replace him with Tom Brady.
Some may question why New Orleans decided to sign Winston with Brees and Hill already on the roster, but coach Sean Payton takes pride in developing quarterbacks. He helped Teddy Bridgewater, who signed with Carolina in March, revive his career over the past two seasons after a devastating knee injury.
Considering the Saints signed Winston for just $1.1 million, bringing him on board presents minimal risk and could reap major dividends if Payton is able to reach the talented gunslinger. Only 26 years old, he could rebuild his stock learning under Brees and be a coveted free agent next year, setting the Saints up for a third-round compensatory pick.
How does this pertain to the Seahawks? Just as New Orleans did with Winston, Seattle should at least entertain the idea of signing former nemesis Cam Newton to back up Wilson in a savvy business move.
While there's no reason to break the bank on a backup quarterback, Seattle currently has only undrafted free agent Anthony Gordon on the roster behind Wilson. The former Washington State signal caller will have local fans rooting for him, but he only started one year at the college level and needs time to develop.
Though a foot injury prevented him from playing in all but two games in his final season with the Panthers in 2019, Newton is actually younger than Wilson and will turn 31 in May. Still, questions about his durability led to his release with Carolina in transition and he's been left on the outside looking in following the league's annual quarterback carousel that took place over the past month and a half.
Injury concerns aside, it's worth noting Newton is only one season removed from posting a career-best 67 percent completion rate and throwing 24 touchdown passes for the Panthers. He also rushed for 488 yards and four touchdowns, proving capable of still doing damage with his legs.
Nonetheless, no team seeking quarterback help prioritized pursuing Newton. As a former NFL MVP and three-time Pro Bowler, he believes he still has plenty of great football left in him, but the lack of interest elsewhere suggests the league doesn't necessarily feel the same way and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic have only complicated his efforts to find another team.
If Newton is willing to accept the fact he isn't in high demand at the moment - which obviously isn't a given - and decides to consider backup options to restore his value, the Seahawks would be an ideal landing spot for a myriad of reasons.
First and foremost, Seattle's scheme matches Newton's strengths well. He isn't the same decorated pocket passer as Wilson, as indicated by the fact he has only produced a 60 percent completion rate three times in nine NFL seasons. But his mobility remains an asset on read option plays and he's spent most of his career operating from the shotgun, which would allow him to seamlessly replace Wilson if he did suffer an injury.
Secondly, the Seahawks could take a page from the Saints playbook, as offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has earned a reputation as a quality quarterback coach for his past work with Drew Brees and Wilson. If he's able to sharpen up Newton's game, he could help the veteran land another starting opportunity in 2021, which could net Seattle a high compensatory pick.
Taking that logic a step further, what if another team has a quarterback go down in training camp or during the season? As the Saints have done by signing Winston, the Seahawks could give themselves a great trade chip to acquire future draft assets.
Obviously, Newton is a prideful individual who carries a giant ego with him and fair or not, he's earned a reputation in some circles as a front-runner who doesn't handle losing well. He's likely still grappling with the notion he hasn't been signed yet and even with his prospects of signing to compete for a starting role getting slimmer by day, he may not be willing to take a bargain deal like Winston did at this stage of his career.
Before Seattle could consider bringing him into the locker room, they'd also need to make sure Wilson accepted the move and do their due diligence to ensure it's the right fit. The team certainly won't be looking to create unnecessary drama with a backup quarterback who they're hoping won't have to play.
But that's really the central point in this whole argument. With Wilson set to turn 32 in November, the star signal caller isn't getting any younger. Even considering his iron man status having never missed a game in eight prior seasons, as he ages, the Seahawks can't downplay the importance of having a quality insurance policy at quarterback.
By signing Newton and taking advantage of a saturated quarterback market, the Seahawks would instantly have one of the best backup alternatives in the league. With their title window wide open, it would be an excellent safeguard in case Wilson does miss time and at worst, the organization would set themselves up to potentially land a draft choice down the road.