NFL Teams are Wildly Underrating Cam Newton and Jameis Winston

Ryan Phillips
Jameis Winston and Cam Newton shake hands after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers game
Jameis Winston and Cam Newton shake hands after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers game / Brian Blanco/Getty Images
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Cam Newton and Jameis Winston have yet to find homes nearly two full weeks into free agency. Given the age of the two quarterbacks and what they can offer an NFL franchise relative to other options on the market, it's clear that teams are wildly undervaluing both players.

Newton obviously has injury issues, which have held him back. But in 2018 he had a pretty darn good season despite dealing with a nagging shoulder injury. He completed a career-high 67.9 percent of his passes and had 24 touchdowns and a 94.2 passer rating in 14 games. He still had some juice left.

The 30-year-old is still looking for a job after being released by the Panthers. He's never been a terribly accurate quarterback -- as his career completion percentage over nine seasons sits at 59.6 -- but he's still mobile enough to scramble for yards, trended towards being more accurate from 2016 through 2018 and has led a team to a Super Bowl. Maybe he's done, but there's plenty to suggest he can lead a winning team again.

Winston's numbers during his five years in Tampa Bay aren't awful. Yes, he threw 30 interceptions in 2019, which is unforgivable. But he also led the NFL in passing yards (5,109), was second in touchdown passes (33) and tied for fourth in yards per attempt (8.2). While he makes too many mistakes to expect a long-term contract, there's a lot to work with there.

For his career, Winston carries a completion percentage of 61.3, averages 7.7 yards per attempt, has thrown 121 touchdowns against 88 interceptions, and has only missed eight games in five seasons. He just turned 26 and there's still upside left if a coaching staff can get him to limit mistakes.

There might be locker room or off-field concerns with both players holding teams back from jumping onboard. I get that. But the fact that neither has gotten an incentive-laded short-term deal is, frankly, stunning.

There's no questioning the raw talent of either guy. When you look at the landscape around the NFL and what else is out there, it boggles the mind that both guys are still unemployed.

Andy Dalton is being thrown around as a potential starter for several teams. The Chicago Bears traded for Nick Foles (and his contract) to compete for the team's starting job. The Chargers are entering 2020 with Tyrod Taylor as their starting quarterback. Drew Lock is starting in Denver. Jarrett Stidham is the returning starter in New England. You're telling me Newton and Winston are worse than those guys? Come on.

While there are certainly injury concerns for Newton, he's worth the risk. Winston throws the ball to the other team far too much, but he's talented enough to make a team better with the right coaching. The fact that both guys are still available is crazy.

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