(image courtesy of Clutch Points)
Wind the clock back a couple of seasons (2018) when Cam Newton was still healthy and contributing on a regular basis. He finished the season with 4,000 all-purpose yards and 28 touchdowns. Injuries have derailed his promising career and led to him being cut from Carolina this off-season. He and Andy Dalton made their NFL debuts in 2011 for the Panthers and Cincinnati Bengals, respectively. When comparing their careers to this point, they’ve accumulated similar numbers, with Newton holding the edge in rushing yards. The main difference is, one has a job now, and the other doesn’t.
Dalton was released from the Bengals a few days ago, but his time on the waiver wire didn’t last long. The Dallas Cowboys swooped him up, signing him to a one-year deal worth $7 million. I’m not criticizing the move whatsoever, but it does deserve an eyebrow raise. Newton has been a free agent much longer, and he has the tools similar to Dak Prescott, being a dual-threat QB. Maybe Jerry Jones didn’t want to risk signing someone like Newton to the team, because he tries to make too much of each play on the field. It could purely be the lack of time Newton has been on the field the past couple of seasons, due to his inability to stay healthy. Or, it could be a money situation where Newton was asking for too much, and wouldn’t settle with being a backup.
The Cowboys landed a quality QB to backup Prescott if need be. Dalton has had weapons like AJ Green at his disposal for years, but Green was held out of 2019 due to injury. Despite not having his big-time threat, Dalton still finished the year with 3,500 yards and 20 all-purpose scores. Not bad for a team that only won two games. Dallas isn’t getting a mobile QB by any means in Dalton, but he does have 32,000 passing yards and over 200 passing touchdowns to his name. With so many teams drafting their next hopeful franchise signal-callers, and other teams relying on veterans, it was unlikely Dalton would land a starting spot. Prescott has yet to miss a game in his career, but as he ages and continues to make plays with his legs, that could change. Dalton will also be looked upon to help mentor Prescott while with the organization.
While the NFL doesn’t generally find success with dual-threat Quarterbacks, Newton has managed to do so. He was a phenom his rookie year when he introduced “Super Cam” and set NFL records. Since then, his health has been of note, but he has been a three-time Pro Bowler and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl victory in 2015. He also has 29,000 passing yards, just shy of 5,000 rushing yards, and 166 all-purpose scores to his name. Newton has played in seven postseason games, his most recent in 2017, while Dalton has played in four postseason games, his last being in 2014. If the Cowboys were trying to find a player who has experience late in the season, and can step up in the postseason, they probably picked the wrong guy.
The window is closing on teams looking to acquire veteran talent with the NFL Draft complete. Not to mention, some players end up getting hurt in mini-camps, though rarely Quarterbacks, but those camps aren’t scheduled to happen this year. Will Newton still be a free agent by the time football finally resumes? With the unique factors at play this year, my bet would be yes. Should he be? No. Newton has been putting in the work, taking on his unemployment as a challenge as an opportunity to get even better. As a student of the game, you can bet when he gets his chance, he’ll make the most of it.