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Cam Newton is a Brilliant Idea Waiting to Happen

Cam Newton
Cam Newton, thinking of the future. | Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Cam Newton is available. One can understand the reasons why the Carolna Panthers would outright release a 30-year-old former MVP quarterback. Injuries. Matt Rhule wanting to start fresh. Behind-the-scenes friction. Uncertainty about the future.

At the end of the day, though, Newton is an open-market enigma worth considering. When healthy, his ceiling is still high, even if it's not what it once was. He is not 42-year-old Tom Brady or 38-year-old Philip Rivers. It's very possible he could right his ship and be an above-average quarterback for the next decade, though his style of play would have to become more conservative.

Consensus opinion on Newton dropped quickly and furiously last year. But looking back, he arguably had his second-most productive year as a passer in 2018. That wasn't so long ago! There's great fear that becoming an increasingly single-threat will yield far less than the dual-threat did.

The thing about that? Newton may not be a total known, but he's not a complete unknown either. Armed with a competent defense and running attack, he's still a guy who can win meaningful football games. At least I think he can.

So it will be extremely interesting to see which NFL teams share that sentiment. The Patriots? The Redskins? The Bears? Bill Belichick loves proving how smart he is, Ron Rivera has an existing relationship, and the Bears ... well, who knows what they're up to?

Perhaps the greatest value Newton has is as a stop-gap. An experiment to run while the quarterback of the future is groomed. Consider Miami, which has been making all sorts of noise about drafting Tua Tagovailoa and may need a redshirt year. Or even better, the Los Angeles Chargers. Why not take a flier on Newton if the plan is to groom someone from this year's draft?

All indications are that Anthony Lynn loves what Tyrod Taylor brings to the table. Newton surely has the capacity to bring more. Taylor isn't the long-term option for playoff competition anyway, so wouldn't taking a stab at trying to compete now be worthwhile?

It's unclear how amendable Newton would be to a short contract or to be viewed as a rental. Thinking critically, he would understand it could be a showcase period for, potentially, a more lucrative and prolonged offer sheet down the road.

Newton has the ability to make a franchise look brilliant for rolling the dice. And the ante to play is really not all that high. I say it's time for someone to get in the game.