Sunday afternoon, there was a report by Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman that 10 teams would be in the market for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton via trade. Obviously, there are some outside factors that will have to be considered, such as Newton's overall health and recovery from his foot injury. Still, he has a rare talent and an unnamed AFC general manager believes there would be a "robust" trade market.
On paper, this statement is understandable considering that finding a quality QB in the modern NFL is critical for longterm success. As the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers have shown, finding this signal-caller will keep a team in contention for a decade or longer. Although 10 does seem like a larger number than expected.
There are currently 32 teams in the NFL, the majority of which are set at quarterback. The Philadelphia Eagles have Carson Wentz and recently awarded him with a contract extension. The Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray first overall during the 2019 NFL Draft and have built their offense around him. Both the Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs have budding superstars in Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
That being said, there are a number of teams that either have an aging veteran on the roster or are looking for a complete reboot. This is where the list becomes fascinating. Would the 30-year-old Newton improve the situations in Cincinnati, Washington, or Denver?
After further examination, there are seven realistic trade destinations for Newton.
When Bruce Arians returned to the NFL to coach the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the hope by many was that he would have a direct effect on starter Jameis Winston. In the five years since being selected first overall, the former Florida State quarterback has shown flashes of brilliance but has also been benched for inconsistent play.
As his stats show, Winston has been able to move the offense up and down the field while accruing two seasons with more than 4,000 yards passing. However, he has also been responsible for many turnovers. Sunday's loss to the Panthers in London was the latest example as Winston threw five interceptions and fumbled twice. Arians has previously said that he won't consider benching Winston, but would his opinion change if Newton was available via trade?
The Miami Dolphins have made it clear that they are tanking during the 2019 season with the ultimate goal of landing the first overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. With multiple top college quarterbacks available, there is an opportunity to rebuild the South Florida team with one of the more fascinating prospects. If so, why would they consider adding Newton?
As recent years have shown, many top rookies are not immediately prepared to start 16 games following the draft. There are some players that require time to sit and learn. Adding Newton to the Dolphins would give the rookie someone to learn behind while also making this team immediately competitive. For the owners, Newton's presence would also serve as an avenue for selling tickets and jerseys.
Last Sunday, the Tennessee Titans were shut out by the Denver Broncos during a game in which former second overall pick Marcus Mariota was benched. In the eyes of many, this served as a death knell on his starting career, which put the Titans in the business of searching for a new signal-caller.
The Titans currently have backup Ryan Tannehill in the building after acquiring him from the Miami Dolphins. However, the former first-round pick has also been viewed as an inconsistent player throughout his career. Both struggled mightily against the Broncos and combined for three interceptions. Newton has certainly been known for his interceptions as well, but he has 100 passing touchdowns since 2015, topping Mariota (76) in the same span of time.
Once the second overall pick, Mitch Trubisky has become a very divisive figure in the Windy City. For many Chicago Bears fans, he is not the answer at the quarterback position despite helping this team reach the playoffs in 2018. This mindset also extends to many members of the media. Former wide receiver Steve Smith even said that Trubisky is not efficient, doesn't make good decisions, and that it is time for Chicago to move on.
With the league's third-ranked defense, the belief is that the Bears are playoff contenders and could have a legitimate shot to reach the Super Bowl. Would Newton provide a spark to a talent-filled defense? In 2015, the Panthers were ranked sixth in team defense and 11th in pass defense, per Pro Football Reference. This team reached the Super Bowl while Newton took home league MVP. The two units worked in tandem and finished with a 15-1 record.
The Denver Broncos and quarterback Joe Flacco are an interesting case study. On paper, the veteran has been effective overall while throwing for nearly 1,500 yards in six games. However, there have been moments where he has struggled to move the offense for large portions of the game, only to come back and lead a drive near the end of regulation. According to Pro Football Focus, the former Ravens Super Bowl champion has a 69.9 overall grade after throwing for six touchdowns and five interceptions.
While Newton would be likely to throw just as many interceptions, his ability to create plays with his legs would add a considerable boost to this Broncos offense. Having two talented running backs in Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay beside him would provide the opportunity to run option plays, and opposing defenses would struggle to keep this offense in check.
Additionally, Newton would have access to big-play options in wide receivers Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders, as well as tight end Noah Fant. Granted, dealing with Flacco's three-year, $66.4 million contract could make this move more difficult to complete considering he carries a cap hit of more than $20 million each season in 2020 and 2021. Although the dead cap money is $23.8 million combined.
The Washington Redskins are currently in the process of rebuilding and have many decisions to make in the coming weeks and months. With head coach Jay Gruden recently being fired, the Redskins will once again be looking for a new man to run the show, which will put the status of many players in doubt. Will Case Keenum and Colt McCoy remain the top two options at quarterback, or will the new head coach want a different option?
Obviously, rookie Dwayne Haskins is the future starter in the capital, but he did not look ready for his debut back when he threw three interceptions against the New York Giants. There is a belief by many that Haskins is a very talented, but raw player. Being able to sit and continue learning about the intricacies of the position would be very beneficial, and trading for Cam Newton would provide that opportunity. The two quarterbacks could work together and help Haskins progress before his ultimate starting debut.
A second-round pick by the Cincinnati Bengals back in 2011, Andy Dalton has been in the league for the same number of years as Newton, but he has experienced a very different level of success. The man known as the Red Rifle has been consistent overall while throwing more touchdowns than interceptions every year, but he has also only had one season (2015) in which he was truly viewed as one of the better quarterbacks in the league. This year ended early after Dalton suffered a broken thumb.
In every other season of his career, the three-time Pro Bowler has been viewed as a solid, but uninspiring option under center. The Around the NFL podcast even created a segment in which they rank quarterbacks, which became known as the Dalton Scale. Any quarterback ranked above Dalton was a franchise guy while anyone below needed to be replaced.
The hosts of the show view him as the prime meridian of quarterbacks, someone that could help a team reach the playoffs but not win the Super Bowl.
Is Cam Newton someone that could step in and make the surrounding players in Cincinnati better in order to reach the playoffs? The answer is ultimately unknown, but Newton is certainly someone that could go toe-to-toe with Lamar Jackson and the Ravens.