Is Cam Netwon An Elite NFL Quarterback Or A Backup?

Mar 25, 2020, 3:19 PM
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 12: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs off the field...
CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 12: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers runs off the field after their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The worst-kept NFL secret came out this week when the Carolina Panthers cut former league MVP, Cam Newton.

The Panthers reached a deal with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to lead the Panthers going forward under new head coach Matt Rhule.

The big question is what does this mean for Newton’s status as an NFL quarterback. He only played in the first two games last year and then shut the season down with a foot injury so there are questions about his health.

Looking at what he did in 2018, Newton was not a good quarterback and in most categories, he was bottom third when looking at a per-game basis as he played in only 14 contests. Then seeing him suffer an injury early in 2019 probably made it easy for the Panthers to part ways, especially with a new head coach.

During this NFL free agency offseason, there have been many quarterbacks who changed teams including Tom Brady, Teddy Bridgewater and Philip Rivers. The game of musical chairs could end with Newton being a backup in 2020.

Can Cam Newton Still Play?

Last season was not great for the Panthers who went 5-11. Newton was just OK, so the question begs how good can he be? Who knows how Newton would have played had he not gotten hurt.

The most recent times he has been on the field have not been great but KSL Sports’ Alex Kirry does not believe Newton has fallen off a cliff and is now just some regular guy at quarterback.

“Cam Newton is a number one overall draft pick, but he has been good, and he wasn’t even bad last year he got injured,” Kirry said. “He was the MVP in the league in 2015, took his team to the Super Bowl, and has been pretty good his entire career. He is one of the most athletic guys I have seen play the position, but I am like, ‘there is no way he just got bad.'”

However, Kirry’s co-host is Scott Mitchell who played a dozen years in the NFL as a quarterback and can completely understand how Newton might have just fallen off as an elite quarterback.

“It is the initials of the NFL: Not For Long. If you haven’t done anything spectacular recently you are going to be out the door, I don’t care who you are,” Mitchell said. “It feels like with Cam Newton there is something amiss, whether it is health or the way he is dressing. I know you think I am kind of joking about that but I am not. His behavior kind of switched, he went off the deep end. Teams get leery of that and say, ‘this guys motivation, this guy’s focus, drive or whatever you want to say has waned.’

“There is a shelflife to everyone and it hits everyone in different ways. Look at a guy like Todd Gurley, he was a beast and the best thing in the NFL and then all of a sudden when he gets paid and his mindset changes,” Mitchell added. “That is the same thing with a guy like Cam Newton. There is something not right in this guy’s life and it will translate onto the field and teams are aware of this.”

The Panthers know Newton more than anyone else and they chose not to keep him.

As for where he will go is up in the air. A handful of teams already went out and got the quarterback they want for the future but there there are a few teams that need quarterbacks. The New England Patriots need a quarterback badly after losing Brady as they have just Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham on their roster.

“The Chargers are a great place for a guy like Cam Newton, the Pittsburgh Steelers is another place as Ben Roethlisberger is getting up there in age, and Jacksonville is a great place with only Gardner Minshew,” Mitchell said.  “The thing with a guy like Newton he may have to take a backseat, and he feels like, to me, a guy who doesn’t want to take a backseat.

“He likes to be out front and look at me. If he is not that guy he can be one of those locker room lawyers pleading his case and why he should be the starter,” Mitchell added. “But if he can go in and have a little humility by going in with fire and a great attitude and he is just happy to be there but is also determined to prove everyone wrong he could end up in a good situation. Someone will pick him up.”

Newton is an exciting player when he is at his best and one of few NFL quarterbacks that the casual fan will want to tune in and watch. He seemingly still has the talent to at the very least be a backup but does he want to accept being someone’s backup.

“I hope that Cam Newton comes back and plays again. In the same league where Chase Daniel can get paid $5.5 million as a backup and his niche is he is a solid backup guy,” Kirry said. “I think a guy like Cam Newton would ever be a backup, ever.”

There have been many NFL quarterbacks who went from really good to falling off. A few recent examples are Brett Favre with the New York Jets and Jake Delhomme of the Carolina Panthers. Both had a varying degree of success with Favre a sure-fire Hall of Famer to Delhomme being a playoff-leading quarterback one year to being benched the falling. Time will tell what path Newton’s career takes going forward and what team will take a chance on him.

Tune into KSL’s Unrivaled every Monday through Friday, 7-9 p.m., or download the KSL NewsRadio app to subscribe to the podcast. 

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Is Cam Netwon An Elite NFL Quarterback Or A Backup?