Could the Vikings Sign Cam Newton?
It should be impossible to get a former MVP and Super Bowl quarterback at $1 million, but that’s exactly what the Patriots got Cam Newton for in 2020. After a pretty disappointing year in New England (which wasn’t entirely his fault), Newton hits the markets again and has not been talked about nearly as much as any other quarterback on this year’s carousel. Is it possible that he slips even further this year and has to settle for a backup job?
It’s not as far-fetched as you might think to put Newton in a backup role. In recent years we’ve seen backups including Jacoby Brissett in Indy, both Teddy Bridgewater and Jameis Winston in New Orleans, Marcus Mariota in Las Vegas, and Andy Dalton in Dallas. None of these players have ever hit Newton’s peak, but he was nowhere near his peak in 2020, especially later on. In fact, as erratic as Winston may have been at times, his 2019 season runs laps around Newton’s 2020 performance.
There have been some success stories from former backups as well. Brissett had a decent year in 2019, leading the Colts to 7-8 after being thrown into the starting role amidst Andrew Luck’s retirement. This season, Bridgewater had by far his most accurate year as a full-time starter even if Carolina didn’t have much success to show for it. Winston now looks like the top option for the Saints’ job in 2021 as well. Newton may see some benefit in taking a year to regroup, learn, and find a new starting role in 2022.
Starting Options Are Thin
While there is an unprecedented amount of teams with questions at quarterback, few of them seem to include Newton. He may have fallen to as far as the third option to return to New England. Rookie quarterbacks have been linked to the Patriots, and you can never rule out Bill Belichick’s desire to bring back Jimmy Garoppolo should San Francisco move on.
He may not even want to return either, especially after seeing how ineffective the weapons around him were in 2020. LA and Detroit are off the market. Chicago seems like the favorite for Carson Wentz. Washington seems to be moving forward with Heinicke/Smith.
In my opinion, his best options for getting a starting job may be San Francisco or Indianapolis. Of course, the 49ers would have to move on from Garoppolo and pass on drafting a QB in the draft. Indy would also have to miss out on both Deshaun Watson and Wentz.
These options would be enticing because of good defense, strong offensive lines, and great weapons at WR and RB. A mobile quarterback would be a great weapon for both offenses, but a lot of dominos have to fall for either option to become viable.
Why Would Minnesota Be Interested in Newton?
New Orleans has become the poster child for bringing in above-average backups. However, this year may be different. The Bridgewater experiment in 2019 was similar to their signing of Brees back in 2006. They wanted to give a young, promising quarterback a chance after his devastating injury. They wanted Winston last year because he could offer a strong arm to contrast Brees’ ever-shortening field of range. There is no real reason for New Orleans to sign Newton because, well, they have a very similar, more versatile player already: Taysom Hill.
Minnesota should consider bringing in Newton, though. Not only would it give him an opportunity to learn under Kirk Cousins and recuperate, but the Vikings could actually find a use for him right away. Newton has always been one of the most dynamic red zone quarterbacks throughout his career. Down in that area, Newton has scored 183 total touchdowns compared to just 14 interceptions.
In 2020, one of the things that he continued to do well was run the ball. He scored 12 touchdowns with his legs, and his ability to power through defenders has continued to be an asset. If the Vikings were to sign him, they could use him not only as insurance should Kirk Cousins get injured, but his rushing could be an immediate asset. Remember the Seattle game? I bet Newton would have been able to get into the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
As I’ve previously talked about, the Vikings paid Sean Mannion around $1 million this year to do, well, nothing. Cam Newton may command more money than he did in 2020, but I think the chances of that are slim with how little he’s being talked about. It’d be reassuring to have a competent backup behind Cousins, but it’d bring even more comfort to have a former MVP. They could learn from each other, and Newton could be used immediately as a rushing threat in the red zone. It’d make an offense that was already very good in 2020 almost unstoppable.