Former Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is still jobless nearly two months after NFL free agency officially began, and he’s reportedly considering some alternative options if a starting position doesn’t present itself.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Newton is now open to being a backup quarterback.
From NFL Now: Free agent QB Cam Newton has not ruled out a backup QB job in the right situation, I'm told. He wants to be (and should be) a starter. But he's open to being a backup. pic.twitter.com/g89M6vAgyv— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 7, 2020
“The thought process has been all along that Newton wants to be a starter. He does want to be a starter, former MVP, he should be a starter but the reality is that there just aren’t any starting jobs available, so now — maybe a little bit of a shift in philosophy here — my understanding is that Cam Newton has not ruled out taking a backup job in the right situation. It remains to be seen where and when that will be, but obviously Newton is still unemployed and really only has two choices: take a potentially prime backup job right now or wait until another starter gets injured, which may or may not come.”
Judging by Rapoport’s report, Newton won’t take any old backup job that comes along. It needs to be the right situation and the right team for him to accept a job that is a major step down from being a starter.
Unfortunately, being a backup QB may be the only route to any NFL job at all for Newton, who will turn 31 on May 11. He struggled in 2018 before his season ended early due to a shoulder injury, and he played just one game in 2019 before fracturing his Lisfranc and missing the rest of the season. He had surgery in December and was presumably planning on reinforcing his free agent value through workouts during free agency, but then the COVID-19 pandemic began and made it impossible for him to work out for teams.
Injuries are Newton’s recent past, but he’s repeatedly shown over his career that he’s both smart and talented. You don’t win an MVP and make it to the Super Bowl (all in the same year!) by accident. He’s the Panthers’ all-time leading passer, and has thrown for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions over his nine-year NFL career. It’s hard to expect more from a No. 1 overall draft pick, especially since he can’t control his injuries.
Newton also can’t control COVID-19. Social distancing and the closure of non-essential businesses like the NFL have hurt his free agency more than anyone else because they’ve limited his ability to show teams that he’s fully healed. At this point, with most starting jobs sewn up and summer getting closer and closer, Newton may have no choice but to take a backup job and hope that eventually leads to the starting spot he deserves.
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