NFL Free Agents 2020: Latest on Cam Newton, More Top Free Agents

Theo SalaunContributor IIIMarch 26, 2020

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton arrives at Levi's Stadium before an NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
Tony Avelar/Associated Press

While Cam Newton does not have a new home, the rest of free agency has hummed along with major additions among various position groups. Of those groups, the most notable movement is happening along the defensive line and secondary.

Defensively, the Cincinnati Bengals have been big spenders with Trae Waynes, Vonn Bell and D.J. Reader all signed to multiyear deals. Two veteran defensive linemen are nearing deals elsewhere: Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers. Meanwhile, after nine years with the Carolina Panthers, Newton was released this week and has already been thrust into the free-agent spotlight by passing a physical hosted by Carolina and his agents.

Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, Newton is "hungrier than ever and eager for the next opportunity." There's not much buzz about a landing spot just yet, but two teams just moved on from iconic passers and could be ready for a chance. As it stands, the Los Angeles Chargers will be starting Tyrod Taylor at quarterback next season, and the New England Patriots could be starting Jarrett Stidham.

Rumors of a reunion with former coach Ron Rivera were quickly shot down by the coach himself. According to Washington's staff writer Kyle Stackpole, Rivera professed to "really like what we have in terms of our young quarterbacks." With Kyle Allen (recently traded from Carolina) and Dwayne Haskins battling for the starting position on what should be a bad, young football team, the Chargers and Patriots stick out as intriguing destinations for Newton.

The Chargers are already committed to having a mobile quarterback in Taylor, who lacks the heroic heights Newton has made a living reaching. On their careers, Taylor boasts a significantly lower interception rate (1.5 percent to Newton's 2.7) and a higher quarterback rating (89.8 to Newton's 86.1). But Super Cam's nickname is no sham and the former league MVP has run for 58 touchdowns, 42 more than Taylor.

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If the Chargers want a combination of Taylor's scrambling ability and Philip Rivers' penchant for sloppy heroics, Newton could find himself in Los Angeles this offseason.

As for the Patriots, Jarrett Stidham may be the team's long-term answer after nabbing him with a fourth-round pick in 2019 and letting Tom Brady walk away. But it's unlikely that coach Bill Belichick can ever be satisfied without a chance at the Lombardi Trophy. More interestingly, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels moved up to draft Tim Tebow in the first round (and trade three picks to do so) of the 2010 draft when head coach of the Denver Broncos.

New England's head coach wants to win now and its offensive coordinator has some longstanding affinity for quarterback mobility. Newton is a relative inaccuracy and injury history may be worth a gamble for a team that always innovates around the talent it possesses.

Elsewhere, teams are stacking up on defense. With NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reporting that New Orleans Saints safety Vonn Bell is signing a three-year deal with Cincinnati, that puts the Bengals at $145 million in salary committed to free agents thus far in 2020. This follows deals across the defense and, as Field Yates estimated, is over $77 million more than Cincinnati spent on unrestricted acquisitions in 2019.

On the defensive front, Suh and Brockers are expected to be signed pending contract negotiations and physicals—the latter of which has become more complicated in light of the ongoing national response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Unlike Brockers, Suh is expected to return to his former team in 2019. Schefter reported the Buccaneers and Suh are expecting a "one-year, $8 million deal." The big man gets to continue playing with his preferred coordinator in Todd Bowles and return to an aggressive defense that should finally be able to stay off the field a little longer without Jameis Winston giving the ball away as regularly as commercial breaks.

Finally, the expected three-year, $30 million contract between the Baltimore Ravens and former Los Angeles Rams lineman Brockers is still expected to reach completion by Rapoport. This is despite The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec noting a delay caused by the team's inability to examine Brockers' high-ankle sprain in person because of COVID-19 restrictions. Brockers put up 63 tackles and three sacks in 2019 and is a huge piece to complement a defensive line already made frighteningly imposing by the 2020 addition of Calais Campbell.

Shoring up defensive position groups is one thing, so all of these deals should proceed as expected. The Newton situation is wholly different, and all we can do is daydream about how wild his playbook would be in New England or his outfits could be in the Los Angeles sun.

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