Silence speaks volumes. And in the case of Cam Newton’s silent free-agent market, the NFL is screaming something loud and clear: His days as a franchise quarterback are over. Though he once looked like a generational superstar, injuries and inconsistency, along with a new regime, caused the Carolina Panthers to move on from their former No. 1 overall pick.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton still doesn’t have a job while Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton have already found new homes. But for anyone who’s followed Newton’s NFL career, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The soon-to-be 31-year-old simply isn’t worth the headache anymore and the NFL apparently agrees.
Cam Newton’s inconsistent Panthers career
Like his historic Auburn career, Cam Newton’s peak seemed to flash by in an instant. After the freakishly gifted 6-foot-5, 245-pounder went first overall in the 2011 NFL draft, the Panthers immediately inserted Newton as their starter. He responded with a 4,000-yard season that also included 706 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground. His first-year success resulted in a Pro Bowl selection—an honor he’d only receive twice more over the next eight seasons.
Though his running ability made him a fantasy star, from a throwing perspective, Newton never developed into an elite quarterback. Yes, he had an elite 2015 season when he earned NFL MVP honors and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance. But since throwing for a career-high 35 touchdowns, he’s never come close to replicating that. And let’s not forget how Newton infamously backed away as a Broncos defender pounced on a loose ball in that Super Bowl 50 defeat.
Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Newton’s game has been his inaccuracy. In nine years with the Panthers, he completed more than 60 percent of his passes just twice. Newton also threw 108 interceptions in 124 starts. That interception rate of 0.87 per game looks awful compared to elite quarterbacks like Tom Brady (0.63), Russell Wilson (0.53) and Drew Brees (0.48). The longtime Panthers starter has a career quarterback rating of just 86.1, which ranks 34th in NFL history behind both Winston (31st) and Dalton (28th). Even fellow former No. 1 pick Alex Smith, ranks ahead of Newton with a career quarterback rating of 87.3.
Former No. 1 pick has watched other QBs find new homes after Carolina cut him
Speaking of Winston and Dalton, both quarterbacks watched their former teams move on for new blood. Well, maybe not exactly new in Winston’s case. Tampa Bay took advantage of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick relationship running its course and signed the greatest quarterback of all time to a two-year deal. Winston didn’t earn a starting quarterback gig, but he did well to resurrect his career under Brees and Sean Payton in New Orleans. Winston and Taysom Hill will certainly form an interesting backup duo for the Saints.
Another QB came off the board before Newton when Dallas inked Dalton to an inexpensive one-year deal. Though the Red Rifle didn’t score a huge payday, he still provides a more-than-capable option for the Cowboys in the event Jerry Jones and Dak Prescott can’t work out a long-term deal. The fact that Dalton spent just a few days as a free agent speaks volumes about Cam Newton’s tanking NFL stock.
Newton’s lengthy injury history and attitude problems make him undesirable
From a physical standpoint, Cam Newton is no longer the freak athlete who took the football world by storm a decade ago. Over the years, the dual-threat quarterback has sustained numerous injuries that have sapped him of his ability to perform at an elite level. The former Panthers star underwent ankle surgery during the 2014 offseason before fracturing his rib in a preseason game. In December, he suffered two transverse process fractures in his lower back as a result of a car accident.
However, a torn rotator cuff in his throwing shoulder proved to be career-altering. The three-time Pro Bowler underwent surgery on March 30, 2017. And while he played all 16 games that year, he threw for 3,302 yards—the second-lowest mark of his career to that point. His 16 interceptions represented his highest total since his rookie season. That same balky shoulder proved problematic in 2018, and he had to undergo arthroscopic surgery after the season ended. Last year, the injury-prone quarterback played just two games before a Lisfranc fracture ended his season.
Besides his concerning injury history, Newton lacks appeal because of his questionable leadership and attitude. Too often we’ve seen a downtrodden Newton drape a towel over his head on the sidelines and pout at post-game press conferences. He also didn’t earn any fans with a sexist comment to a female reporter in 2017. Cam Newton may not be a bad guy, but given his undeveloped passing skills, scary durability concerns, and major leadership questions, it seems his days as a franchise quarterback are over.
Just let his silent free-agent market speak for itself.