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As NFL fans count the days (5) until the 2022 kickoff game between the Rams and Bills, one once-prominent player remains out. Former league MVP Cam Newton is unsigned with no signs of that changing.
Entering the league as the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, Cam Newton appeared bigger than life. His style, his smile, his ability to run faster than most running backs at 6-5, 245 pounds out of the quarterback position was nothing the league had seen. Newton also found success as a passer, becoming the first rookie to throw for at least 400 yards in his first career game. He also passed for 400 yards in his second career game.
Newton is also the all-time leader in quarterback rushing touchdowns with 75. That is actually part of the problem that is keeping him out of the league. At age 33, he has the body of a player 10 years older. Contrast Cam Newton with Broncos QB Russell Wilson, who just signed a new, $245 million extension at age 33. Cam Newton’s body has been a mess for the past four seasons and that has taken a toll on his ability to play in the NFL.
Cam Newton Fell Hard, Fast
How quickly has Cam Newton’s star fallen? He was voted the No. 1 player on the NFL’s Top 100 list that came out in 2016 after leading his team to the Super Bowl and winning MVP along the way. Last year, he wasn’t signed until November. The Panthers brought back Newton after injuries at QB and he went 0-5 in the five games he started, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. He also showed he still lacks the ability to read defenses properly.
The awful TD/INT ratio wasn’t just because the Panthers roster had weaknesses. The previous season with the Patriots, Newton again had more interceptions (10) than touchdowns (8) in 15 starts.
But surely, Newton is good enough to get a backup job in the league, right? Maybe even contribute as a goal-line type runner that can help a team reach the end zone? Well, the issue is he still doesn’t understand how far his performance has fallen. Newton sees himself as a starting quarterback in a league that doesn’t believe in his abilities anymore.
Newton told The Pivot podcast: “There’s not 32 guys better than me. On my soul.”
Until he lets go of that belief and is willing to accept a backup role, no one will sign Newton. A coach wants his backup quarterback to know his role and not create a controversy or split a locker room. Newton added that he’s not willing to change his ways: “I’m not going to conform to nothing.”
Cam Newton still has a chance to make it work. Plenty of fans are rooting for him to succeed. Will he get one more shot? Odds seem very unlikely right now.