Cam Newton has been home since the New England Patriots cut him Aug. 31. He’s been working out, spending time with his family and allowing his personality to shine on his social media platforms.
But, more than anything, Newton’s mostly been waiting to get a call from the next NFL team that needs him to play quarterback.
Except the phone has been curiously silent.
And Newton — not ready to call it a career at age 32 because he believes he can still play at a level that would help the right team win, according to a source close to the former NFL MVP — has no choice but to remain patient.
“You got to turn your pain into your power,” Newton told his 4.7 million followers in a recent Instagram post. “And in life, sometimes things don’t go as planned. So what you gonna do, cry? No. You got to use it. There’s an old saying that says, ‘Pain does one of two things — either it uses you or you use it.
“Make sure you use it.”
So here we are.
Newton is on the sideline while other quarterbacks — in some cases, with less experience, or less arm strength, or less mobility — are playing each Sunday.
Davis Mills is starting for the Houston Texans.
Jacoby Brissett is starting for the Miami Dolphins.
Even Ben Roethlisberger, suddenly and obviously diminished at 39 years old, is starting and losing games for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
But Newton is sitting home.
And it’s not just these starters who are currently setting back modern-day football with sub-par performances every week. Consider some of the backups on rosters right now.
David Blough, whose passer rating was 32.9 last season, has a job as the backup for the Detroit Lions.
Jacob Eason has a roster spot on the Indianapolis Colts, but he recently lost his backup QB job to Brett Hundley. And Brett Hundley is not good in the NFL now and never has been. But he also has an NFL job.
While Cam Newton sits home.
Last we saw Newton play, he was more effective than all these dudes. Newton was, by his own admission, not great with the Patriots in 2020. He threw eight touchdowns passes to 10 interceptions and managed a merely functional 82.9 quarterback rating.
But did anyone notice the Patriots had no playmakers on their Neanderthal offense last year?
And did anyone notice the Patriots came back this year with Newton as their presumptive starter when training camp began? That’s how it was until Newton, who is not vaccinated for COVID-19, was forced to sit out a week of practices due to a “misunderstanding” of the NFL’s COVID-19 protocols for unvaccinated players.
In the time Newton was away from the team, rookie Mac Jones obviously caught and passed the veteran on coach Bill Belichick’s depth chart. And then Newton was cut.
So is Newton’s vaccine status keeping him out of the NFL? Is he being blackballed from the league because of that?
None of the media outlets who incessantly and loudly complained Colin Kaepernick was being blackballed from the NFL have mentioned the possibility Newton is being excluded because of his vaccine status. Curious, right?
It’s also possible that the teams who obviously need quarterback help could believe Newton simply fell off the proverbial table and no longer has the abilities he once possessed to the point he’s not better than … David Blough?
Or maybe a combination of those two things is conspiring against Newton.
Something is obviously at play here because, again, looking around at some of these employed quarterbacks taking snaps on game days, one can only wonder how Newton hasn’t already replaced them.
In Pittsburgh, the situation with Roethlisberger is starting to look dire.
He is not mobile, and the Steelers’ offensive line is still developing. (Developing here is defined as not good.) So Roethlisberger has taken 10 sacks in four games.
Roethlisberger is a future Hall of Famer. At least I’ll vote for him, that is certain.
But right now, he’s a statue in the pocket who holds the football too long and is often inaccurate once he lets it fly.
The Steelers have lost three consecutive games, and in last week’s game against Green Bay, their coach Mike Tomlin seemed to openly flirt with Packers QB Aaron Rodgers — as if reminding him the Steelers will be searching for a quarterback next season.
But the Steelers need a viable quarterback this year if they want to save their season. It makes all the sense in the world for Newton to be considered because, frankly, Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins ain’t it.
In Houston, the Texans are hopeful Tyrod Taylor can return from his Grade 2 hamstring injury within a couple of more weeks. And meanwhile they’re going to keep plugging away with Mills, apparently.
Yes, it’s remarkably dumb, if winning is any part of the equation in Houston.
Mills is a rookie and not ready for the NFL. He proved that last week when he completed 11 of 21 pass attempts (52.3 percent) for 87 yards with zero touchdowns and four interceptions against the Buffalo Bills.
Mills had a QB rating of 23.4 as he led the Texans to a 40-0 defeat.
But he is a better option than Cam Newton?
In Miami, the Dolphins put their hopes of staying afloat while Tua Tagovailoa recovers from fractured ribs by handing the reins of the offense to Brissett.
And Brissett has not been good.
Brissett has completed almost 64 percent of his passes, which is not the problem. The problem is Brissett has been a short-pass and checkdown machine during his two starts.
In a loss to previously winless Indianapolis, Brissett passed up throws to clearly open receivers deep down the field in favor of safer but inconsequential short throws.
Brissett is not seeing the whole field nor attacking the defense — until, of course, the Dolphins predictably fall behind in games. Then Brissett has been more willing to throw downfield, but so far in losses to Las Vegas and the Colts, that has been too little too late.
It could be argued the Dolphins don’t need Newton because Tagovailoa will be back soon enough and then the Brissett problems won’t matter.
Tagovailoa was often injured in college and his durability in the NFL has also been challenged. So what happens the next time he gets hurt after being chased down by a bigger, stronger, faster defensive lineman?
Do the Dolphins return to Brissett when Newton would be a better option?