Ron Rivera's relationship with his former Carolina Panthers' MVP QB Cam Newton is not the only reason next season's Washington Football Team's fortunes could be tied to Newton.
But it's a good enough reason for the head coach to keep his mind, and his WFT door, open to the 31-year-old signal-caller.
“I think the biggest thing we can say,'' Rivera said this week in regard to the club' QB search, "is that we’re exploring all of our options. Nothing is off the table.''
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Next question: Is Rivera being more "polite'' than he is "honest''?
Newton was the first player Rivera ever drafted as a head coach, the pair enjoying great success with the Panthers, as they led Carolina to four division titles together, highlighted by a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance in 2015.
That was Newton's league MVP season. Was it "too long ago'' to be a factor now?
In addition to the Rivera-Newton connection -- Marty Hurney was the executive who really made that pick for Newton in 2011 as Rivera was only in his rookie year as a head coach and didn't have the juice that he has now. Hurney, of course, is a SVP of player personnel for Washington now.
The three-time Pro-Bowler played for coach Bill Belichick in New England last year, and the numbers were not good. He completed just eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions - though he did run for an impressive 12 touchdowns.
In total, the Patriots missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008 (as the Tom Brady ended there, to be picked up by Super Bowl entrant Tampa Bay) with a record of 7-9.
In fairness, 7-9 was a Patriots disappointment ... while the same exact WFT record was cause for celebration.
Newton has always been an erratic thrower and some see him as an eccentric personality. To his credit, though, Belichick praised him for his leadership and work ethic ... something Rivera obviously already knows all about. Newton's smarts and experience, his unique physical gifts and his on-field explosiveness would in theory provide Washington with a dimension not available from in-house QB candidates Alex Smith and company.
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And there is something else: WFT is now on-record as suggesting it doesn't want to overpay for a "star QB.'' So what if Washington settles on a "faded star'' - and underpays? Note: Cam Newton - long a "$20 mil QB'' - had a base salary in New England last year of just $1.75 million.
"Again,'' Rivera said, "as we go through this, we’re going to do what we believe is best for us.”
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