By Tommy O’Callaghan.
So, the 2020 NFL draft is done and dusted. After a weekend of teams planning for next season with the addition of new talent on the block, some picks more expected than others, teams now look to available free agents in the offseason.
Amongst the list of current free agents is none other than former MVP, Cam Newton. After playing only 2 games with the Carolina Panthers in 2019, Cam’s time at the Panthers came to an end after 9 years – leading the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance in Super Bowl 50 the highlight in a frustrating, injury-ravaged spell.
So, where next for Cam?
Cam, who turns 31 in May, might be limited in his options. Now that the draft has concluded, teams that looked a good fit for Newton now seem to be settled on their choices.
LA Chargers looked a good fit for Newton after Philip Rivers moved to the Indianapolis Colts. However, with the Chargers sealing the exciting Justin Herbert at No. 6 in round 1 of the draft, the prospect of Cam heading west to LA looks to be over.
Another option is the New England Patriots. Six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady has moved on to the Buccaneers, the heir to the throne awaits, the torch to be passed on, but is Cam the man?
Stepping into Brady’s shoes will be no easy task for whoever takes on the mantle. Belichick’s steel and disciplinary approach may not be an attractive style for the flamboyant Newton.
Besides their contrasting styles, the pressure and expectation that would fall onto a 31-year-old Newton might backfire. The Patriots may be content with Jarrett Stidham, back-up to Brady, leading the line and re-evaluating in the 2021 draft if necessary, with the expectation of one Trevor Lawrence, the highly-rated prospect at Clemson, being available.
It is indeed the lure of waiting a year in the hope of grabbing the exciting Lawrence in next year’s draft that may impact Cam’s track. With Nick Foles moving to the Bears, the Jacksonville Jaguars are, without doubt, in need of a starting Quarterback.
Gardener Minshew is tipped to take the reins for 2020 but, along with the Patriots, they might be more inclined to make Lawrence their preferred option going forward instead of Newton, with the Clemson quarterback expected to be the No.1 pick in the 2021 draft.
There is one other viable option – the Denver Broncos.
Denver might be happy to stick with their 2019 round 2 pick, Drew Lock as a starter next season. The 23-year-old came in towards the end of the 2019 regular season and registered 4-1, hitting 1,020 yards and delivering 7 touchdowns.
Lock may just be what Denver needs, a solid cameo in the final 5 games last season gives hope for Denver. However, after recovering from a bad thumb injury, is a limited run in the final round of games of the regular season enough to suggest Lock should be number 1 at Denver next season?
It could well be the case that Lock will bring the form shown in the final rounds last season to the 2020 season. However, adding Cam to the roster would enhance their offensive firepower greatly, provide an apprenticeship program for Lock to develop working with the former MVP, and cement their long-term quarterback options if both could stay fit.
Ironically, it was the Broncos who denied Cam a Super Bowl Championship in 2015 thanks to the legendary quarterback Peyton Manning, finishing off a stellar career in the best possible fashion – evidence Denver GM, John Elway isn’t afraid of taking a risk on a quarterback who’s been around the block.
There is no disputing Cam’s ability. It is his fitness that’s the worry. The quarterback narrative at present seems to be the exciting new kids on the block such as Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, and Joe Burrow with their agility compared to the veteran fairy tale stories in the likes of Tom Brady & Drew Brees – what about the former MVP and his quest to show his true worth if given the right opportunity?
Cam to the Broncos seems more logical than being back-up at the Chargers, trying to fill Brady’s shoes at New England, and having an uncertain time at Jacksonville with Trevor Lawrence on the way to the NFL, with the Jaguars a possible destination.
A fit Cam Newton and a Denver team that recruited two very exciting wide-receivers in Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler in round 1 and 2 of the draft respectively, with Drew Lock the future quarterback, doesn’t sound like a bad prospect for Broncos fans.
All the hype leading into the draft was Joe Burrow; Heisman trophy winner, national championship title, and No.1 Draft pick all in the one year. Accolades that Burrow can share with only one other induvial – Cam Newton.