Cam Newton has been one of the most polarizing figures in the NFL since entering the league as the first overall pick in 2011. Being the first overall pick and also playing the position of quarterback, expectations right out the gate were extremely high. Newton is not your normal sized human being as he stands at 6’5” and weighs 245 pounds. The astounding part about Cam Newton is how athletic he is. That athleticism showed up on tape as he ran a 4.59 40 yard dash. For perspective on how good of a time that was, Buffalo Bills franchise quarterback Josh Allen, who is similar in size, ran a 4.76 40 yard dash during the 2018 NFL combine.
There is no question that Newton is one of heck of a runner, however, his passing game leaves a lot left to be desired. He’s certainly has had his moments where he looked much better as a passer. Most notably, in his 2015 MVP season where he threw for 35 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. In that season he also ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. That was quite a season to be a Carolina Panthers fan going 15-1 in the regular season, and just coming up short to a Peyton Manning lead Broncos team in Super Bowl 50. After Super Bowl 50, the wheels for Newton started to fall off due to various injuries, and the team only made the playoffs once the following four seasons. After nine seasons, his first stint in Carolina had ended.
The next stop for Newton was New England of all places to take over the job that arguably the greatest of all time held for two decades. You may have heard of him, some guy named Tom Brady. To say this was a bad fit would be an understatement.
Even Cam Newton himself had some things to say about his time in New England recently on The Pivot Podcast:
“I was still learning the offense seven to eight weeks into the season,” stated Newton, who signed with the Patriots on July 8 of that year. “I’m learning systems mentally. As a quarterback—it’s not just, ‘Can you catch?’ It’s not just . . . you can disguise that. As a quarterback—you have to look the part, act the part and be the part.
“So there was countless hours with [quarterbacks coach] Jedd Fisch. There was was countless hours with [offensive coordinator] Josh McDaniels. There was countless hours with so many different people trying to teach me certain things, and it was just brain overload. So there was times I was goin’ to the line and I’m still thinkin’. I’m thinkin’ about the annunciation of the play. I’m thinkin’ about forgettin’ my motions. I’m thinkin’ about my sight adjust. I’m thinkin’ about certain things. So that’s the [expletive]-up situation.
“Did I know it? Yes. To the degree I needed to know it to show the world that I’m still Cam Newton? No, I didn’t. But I put myself in that situation.”
Newton blames the lack of success with the Patriots on having issues learning the offense. There maybe something to what he’s saying because the offense was catered to Tom Brady whose skill set is completely different than Newton’s. It sounds like the old analogy, square peg into a round hole. Despite all of the issues, Newton said he was having in New England, regardless of stats, he still had an almost .500 record with them. That’s not saying a lot, but having the second most carries during a single season in his career, he seemed to be improvising and using his athleticism much more to compensate for the issues he was having with the scheme.
After just one season with the Patriots, he was released during final cuts. At this time he was now a free agent up until an injury to quarterback Sam Darnold happened. Newton was then called back into duty as he returned to his old stomping grounds in Carolina. The second stint with the Panthers certainly didn’t go well as he went 0-5 in games he started, and threw for a career low completion percentage of 54.8%. At this point in his career, he isn’t a starting-caliber player anymore. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean he has no more value as an NFL player.
These days, there is a notable wildcat quarterback who essentially does his best work in the run game and isn’t exactly proficient as a passer, and that player is Taysom Hill.
Hill has made a career out of being a situational player, and when needed he could start at quarterback. Going by the numbers, Hill has had no more than 87 rushes in a single season. Whereas Cam Newton has had more than 100 rushes a year in the majority of the seasons he’s played in. Both players are effective runners and average more than five yards a tote. Anything over four yards per carry in the NFL is considered good. The edge that Hill has over Newton is that he has the ability to play multiple positions and on special teams. Something Newton doesn’t do.
Although Newton may not be considered a multi-tooled player like Taysom Hill, he is three inches taller and weighs about 25 pounds more. He also has been a multiple time Pro Bowler and league MVP, something Hill has yet to accomplish. Ideally, Newton could come in right away and be Dak Prescott’s backup. They have more similarities in their game than any other quarterback on the Cowboys roster or available in free agency.
Another piece to the puzzle that would make Newton appealing to Dallas is using him as a wildcat quarterback, and having a specific package of play calls in place for him, particularly in the red zone. This not only uses Newton in the best way possible, but it protects your franchise quarterback in Dak Prescott as well. God forbid Prescott got injured again, Newton could come in and help Dallas win a game and keep the Cowboys competitive until Prescott returned. If the choice is between Newton or Cooper Rush, the safe money is on Newton. The track record speaks for itself. The main situation that would need to be hammered out is Newton being okay as a backup, and simply selling him on Dallas being the place for him to finally get a Super Bowl ring that has eluded him his entire career.