Cam Newton, Jameis Winston's Best Landing Spots After 2020 NFL Draft

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistApril 25, 2020

ARCHIVO - En esta foto de archivo del jueves 12 de septiembre de 2019, el quarterback de los Panthers de Carolina, Cam Newton (1), sale del terreno de juego tras una derrota 20-14 ante los Buccaneers de Tampa Bay en un juego de la NFL en Charlotte, Carolina del Norte. (AP Foto/Mike McCarn, Archivo)
Mike McCarn/Associated Press

Now that the 2020 NFL draft has come to an end, teams still in search of a quarterback can turn their attention back to the free-agent market where Cam Newton and Jameis Winston continue to wait for an opportunity.

It's rare for two veteran quarterbacks, especially one like Newton with an MVP award on his resume, to go unsigned for this long.

There are some obvious reasons for Newton and Winston to still be searching for work. Injuries have hindered Newton in each of the past two seasons. He was limited to two games in 2019 and had surgery to repair a Lisfranc injury in his left foot in December.

Because of restrictions stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, teams that might be interested in Newton can't bring him in to conduct a physical with their medical staff. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the three-time Pro Bowler did pass a physical with the Panthers prior to being released.

Winston doesn't have any physical concerns, but the former No. 1 overall pick has had significant turnover problems during his five NFL seasons. The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner threw 88 interceptions in 72 games with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The 2019 campaign saw Winston became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw at least 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions in a single season.

One significant problem for both players letting the draft pass without signing is finding a market. There are still teams that might want to upgrade at quarterback, but that pool has likely been diminished because of incoming rookies.

Looking over the current quarterback-needy teams, here are the ones that could eventually pursue one or both of Newton and Winston.


Teams That Need a Starter

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have been linked to every notable free-agent quarterback since Tom Brady opted to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Cap space could be an issue for the Patriots, who currently rank 30th in the NFL with $1.23 million available, per Over the Cap.

It's unclear if Bill Belichick even wants to bring in another player given the way Jarrett Stidham seems to have impressed the organization. ESPN's Mike Reiss noted some Patriots players "have already come to respect from Stidham is his year-round commitment to his craft."

That obviously doesn't suggest Stidham will be a viable starter, but making a panic move to sign a veteran would go against everything Belichick has done in his 20 seasons with the Patriots.

If Belichick wants to create competition at quarterback, Newton seems much more likely to receive an offer from the Patriots than Winston.

Winston's inability to protect the football seems like a non-starter proposition for Belichick.

Newton has been prone to turnovers in his career—he has 108 interceptions in 125 games—but he's also proved capable of leading a team to the Super Bowl.


Teams That Need a QB Upgrade

Los Angeles Chargers

Tyrod Taylor is currently on the Los Angeles Chargers roster, and Justin Herbert was drafted No. 6 overall to be the team's quarterback of the future.

On the surface, there wouldn't appear to be an immediate need for a starter in 2020. General manager Tom Telesco told reporters the team is "happy" with its quarterback situation and wasn't asking Herbert "to come in and carry this football team whatsoever."

The last time Taylor was asked to serve as a bridge quarterback, he struggled for the Cleveland Browns in 2018 with a 49.4 completion percentage, two touchdowns and two interceptions before Baker Mayfield replaced him.

Los Angeles has a playoff-caliber roster if it can figure out the quarterback spot next season.

Head coach Anthony Lynn told reporters earlier this month that the Chargers were "looking at everybody" who can play quarterback.

Per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, one NFL executive believes Winston's "skill set works well with the Chargers' downfield weapons."

Keenan Allen is one of the league's best wide receivers and has had more than 1,100 yards in each of the past three seasons. Mike Williams led the NFL with 20.4 yards per receptions in 2019. Austin Ekeler and Hunter Henry round out the top of Los Angeles' skill-position group.

Having a strong-armed quarterback like Winston or Newton to take advantage of what players like Allen and Williams can do would make either one a natural fit for the Chargers if they want to let Herbert sit for one year.


Wild Card

Washington Redskins

The connection between Newton and the Washington Redskins is obvious with Ron Rivera taking over as head coach.

Rivera has said that Washington isn't going to bring in Newton because of how the roster is set up:

Kyle Stackpole @kylefstackpole

Rivera said there was no interest to bring in Cam Newton. "At the end of the day, we have a young football team with a young quarterback in position. We have the chance to set and establish a thing so that’s the way we’re looking at it."

There's certainly sound logic to that argument, especially since Dwayne Haskins really hasn't been given a fair chance to show what he can do.

But let's take a step back to present a case for the Redskins being much better than fans might expect if they can figure out the quarterback spot.

Washington's defensive line has the potential to wreck opposing quarterbacks with Chase Young joining a group that includes Montez Sweat, Matthew Ioannidis, Jonathan Allen and Ryan Kerrigan.

Even without Trent Williams, Washington's offensive line finished a respectable 13th in Pro Football Focus' grading metric last season. Terry McLaurin emerged as a star in his rookie year with 919 receiving yards, 15.8 yards per catch and seven touchdowns despite poor quarterback play by Haskins and Case Keenum.

There are pieces in place for the Redskins to be successful in 2020, but the ultimate ceiling will depend on the quarterback. Newton and Winston have higher ceilings than Haskins or Kyle Allen, even though they also come with significant question marks.