The Washington soccer team relied on Ryan Fitzpatrick to be their starting quarterback in 2021. The 39-year-old didn’t last long in that role, however.
Fitzpatrick suffered a hip subluxation in Washington’s Week 1 loss to the Chargers. He was replaced by Taylor Heinicke, who is making his third NFL start Thursday night against the Giants.
Naturally, that has caused some to question whether Washington should look for another quarterback to add depth to its roster. The discussions keep coming back to Cam Newton, who has been a free agent since the Patriots shockingly cut him before the 2021 NFL season.
MORE: Why the Patriots Released Cam Newton, Explained
Newton was previously the starting quarterback for the Rivera Panthers from 2011 to 2019. Many believe Washington should go after Newton in the wake of Fitzpatrick’s injury, but will they?
And what about his “Thursday Night Football” opponent, the Giants? The New York quarterback’s situation is far from settled, as Daniel Jones is in the midst of a decisive third season in the NFL. Could the Giants, perhaps, consider Newton if Jones falters?
Here’s an in-depth look at where Newton might fit in as his free agency continues.
Why the Washington soccer team could use Cam Newton
Washington started the season with three at quarterback. Now, they only have two players on their active roster and practice squad with starting experience. And it is not much.
Heinicke only made two starts since entering the league as an undrafted free agent in 2015. He has appeared in nine games, but only last year did he really gain and traction as a legitimate backup quarterback. That came after he did the farmer’s job to keep Washington close to the Buccaneers in the team’s 31-23 Wild Card loss.
That said, it’s hard to trust Heinicke to keep the team afloat for a full season. After all, Heinicke couldn’t even earn a starting job with the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks. Jordan Ta’amu beat him for that job.
Heinicke wasn’t even in the NFL for most of last season. He was taking advanced math classes at Old Dominion last fall before Washington offered him a spot on the practice team. At the time, Heinicke was one of four quarterbacks, along with Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins and Steven Montez.
Heinicke’s lack of experience makes it difficult to predict how he will perform during the 6-8 weeks Fitzpatrick is out. It could be good, but if it has problems, Washington will turn to new backup Kyle Allen. He has 17 starts to his name and is in his fourth year with Rivera, so Allen at least provides a little more proven experience behind Heinicke.
That said, Newton has 139 starts to his name in 10 NFL seasons. So if Washington wants to add another seasoned veteran after Fitzpatrick’s injury, Newton would be a solid option.
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What Ron Rivera said about signing Cam Newton
While signing Newton makes sense on paper for Washington, Rivera doesn’t appear to have much of an interest in doing so. Rivera was asked about Newton after the Patriots cut him. Rivera noted that Newton had appeared on the team’s “radar,” but was comfortable with what the team had as a quarterback.
“We have three guys that we like who came to camp, they did a good job for us and we are going to move on with those guys,” he added. Rivera said.
Rivera’s tone didn’t seem to change when Fitzpatrick was called out. The team signed Kyle Shurmur to the practice team prior to Week 2, but Rivera was asked if the team had plans to sign other quarterbacks.
“No. From now on, no” Rivera said. “We have a short week, and we’ll get through the week, and we’ll go from there.”
Rivera might change his mind if Heinicke and company fight the Giants, but it’s worth noting that Newton became a free agent during Rivera’s first season in Washington in 2020. The team didn’t pursue him; instead, they switched to Allen.
Additionally, Rivera said he was “more than frustrated” with his team’s low vaccination rate at the end of July. That might give you pause when considering Newton, who is not vaccinated.
“Now, for whatever reason, we have a certain reluctance to do that, to get vaccinated,” Rivera said. via ESPN. “These young people have to make the decision for themselves. Hopefully they can understand how shocking it is not to get the vaccine, and would like to believe with all the news that has spread in terms of the fact that people are being hospitalized, that they are dying of COVID right now, they are the ones who are not vaccinated. “
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Could the Giants sign Cam Newton?
It seems highly unlikely that the Giants will go after a player like Newton. They are, more or less, committed to Jones as the team’s starting quarterback.
Members of the Giants organization have repeatedly congratulated Jones in the run-up to his third season. They’re fans of his work ethic and character, and as Dave Gettleman has noted, Jones is entering his second season in the Giants’ current offensive systems.
“We’re excited to see what he’s going to do in year two on the system,” Gettleman said, for ESPN’s Jordan Raanan. “Before [the 2020 season], it was his third system in three years. You know how diligent the kid is, we’ve talked about it all the time. He works as hard on the field as he does off the field. He is more comfortable, he is more prepared. It will be fun to see what happens when we finally give him a full complement of players. “
Jones also has the support of coach Joe Judge. The second-year coach went on to say that Jones has a “mastery” of the Giants offense.
“I’m not a great stat guy in the way they evaluate everyone, especially for a quarterback and how they run the game and facilitate around them,” Judge said. “I think [it’s impressive] When you see it in practice, dominate the offense. … He can steer the team in the right direction and he can get the guys out there and operating and succeeding. … He has taken these steps. “
So while Jones has struggled throughout his career and has delivered the ball 40 times in 28 games (27 starts), it doesn’t seem like the Giants are looking to replace him.
Mike Glennon may not be the most inspiring backup, but signing Newton would only put more pressure on Jones. And with the Giants’ coaches and front office in the hot seat, the last thing they need is a quarterback controversy. They probably need Jones to work if they want to keep their jobs.
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Why hasn’t Cam Newton been signed since the Patriots cut him?
Numerous reasons have been speculated as to why Newton remains unsigned. But as a source said Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk, was primarily related to Newton’s performance and injury history.
As explained by a source with extensive experience evaluating NFL personnel, the current problem with Cam is his injury history and the belief that he is not throwing the ball very well.
That report aligns a bit with the reasons Newton was released by the Patriots. Pro Football Network’s Adam Beasley reported that Newton’s performance compared to Mac Jones was the main issue, but Newton’s vaccination status was also part of the decision.
There wasn’t a single reason Cam Newton left. They told me it was a combination of at least three: Mac Jones’s appearance, Newton’s vaccination stance (which caused a bit of a backstage stir), and Cam’s uninspiring performance this summer.
– Adam Beasley (@AdamHBeasley) August 31, 2021
Bill Belichick denied that Newton’s vaccination status played a role in his release, but it’s worth noting, as unvaccinated players operate under stricter COVID protocols during the 2021 NFL season. NFL coaches obsess over availability above almost every other trait, so it could certainly prolong Newton’s tenure in the free-agent market, as Florio pointed out.
Your vaccination status will surely be a problem in the future. At this point in his career, he’s not so clearly dominant that a team welcomes an unvaccinated Cam Newton into the locker room.
Newton is still looking for work despite his lack of success in finding it since his release. He announced via Instagram that he would not be retiring and believes that he can still be a quality player in the NFL.
“This is not a retirement speech, and I still have a lot of football in me.” Newton said in an Instagram post.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.