Cam Newton Rumors: NFL Teams Wary of Signing QB 'Sight Unseen' After Injuries

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistMay 13, 2020

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton warms up before an NFL preseason football game against the New England Patriots, Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

NFL teams have reportedly been reluctant to sign free-agent quarterback Cam Newton because of concerns about his health.

Appearing Wednesday on Get Up, ESPN NFL reporter Dan Graziano said teams he has spoken to have said "no one's going to sign [Newton] sight unseen" given his injury issues over the past two seasons:

An injury to his throwing shoulder nagged Newton throughout 2018 and caused him to miss the final two games of that season, and then Newton appeared in just two games last season before a foot injury kept him out for the remainder of the campaign.

With the coronavirus pandemic preventing teams from having their doctors examine free agents, those with injury issues such as Newton have been left in a tough spot. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who entered free agency as one of the top overall players available, remains unsigned because he is in a similar situation.

Newton didn't become available until free agency had already started, as the Panthers released him after signing Teddy Bridgewater on March 25. That scenario also worked against Newton since most teams had already addressed the quarterback position or had a plan in place to do so by that point.

There is no denying what the 31-year-old can do when healthy, as he has accomplished almost everything during his NFL career. Newton is a three-time Pro Bowler who in 2015 won the NFL MVP and was named first-team All-Pro.

That season, he led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular-season record and took them all the way to Super Bowl 50, where they fell just short against the Denver Broncos.

There are a few teams that could benefit from signing him if they can get some type of confirmation regarding his health.

With his foot giving him problems, Newton completed just 56.2 percent of his passes for 572 yards, no touchdowns and one interception last season. In 14 games the previous year with a right shoulder injury nagging him, Newton completed a career-best 67.9 percent of his passes but threw for just 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

The 2011 No. 1 overall draft pick also rushed for only 488 yards in 2018, which was down significantly from his career-high 754 yards the previous year. And he rushed for minus-two yards in limited action last season.

If Newton's running ability is no longer present, then the 6'5", 245-pounder isn't the same quarterback who dominated the league for stretches of his career. That is why teams getting a look at his foot as well as his shoulder is so paramount.

Provided teams do get some solid medical information on Newton in the near future, the teams that may present the best fit are the New England Patriots, Jacksonville Jaguars and Washington Redskins.

The Pats lost Tom Brady in free agency and are currently going with 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham, but he is unproven and could use some competition.

Jacksonville seems happy with 2019 sixth-round pick Gardner Minshew II, although he has yet to show he can be a quality starter over the course of an entire season.

Dwayne Haskins should likely be given more time in Washington after some up-and-down play as a rookie last season, but new Redskins head coach Ron Rivera coached Newton in Carolina, so there is a natural connection between the two.

The potential options for Newton have largely dried up, but if he can prove that he is healthy, there may be at least a handful of teams with interest in bringing him in to compete ahead of the 2020 season.