After getting cut from the Patriots this week, Newton is once again a totally free agent. What happens following will aid determine even if it is he can have a successful 3rd act—and just how his career will be remembered.

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The news of electronic came Newton’s release from the Patriots to be shocking, but it didn’t record anyone turn off guard. It appeared most people had a take it or a concept ready around why head coach bill Belichick cut the quarterback that insisted to be his starter for most of the offseason and had in ~ the top of his depth chart every preseason. The two most widely held theories had little to do with football.

Newton’s vaccination condition was the most renowned of the two. Simply last week, Newton missed five days of maintain camp techniques after a “misunderstanding” led to a violation the the NFL’s testing protocols. The succession of events argued that Newton was not vaccinated versus COVID-19; unvaccinated players are subject to stricter protocols and quarantines have to they be exposed come the virus. Newton additionally missed time last season ~ a bout v the coronavirus, which corresponded with a bottom spiral for the Patriots offense. All in all, it would have actually been understandable if Belichick didn’t desire to take any type of chances by having actually an unvaccinated starter at the most important position ~ above the roster. However in a Wednesday press conference, Belichick said that Newton’s inoculation status had nothing to perform with the team’s decision. “No, we have actually other football player on the team that aren’t vaccinated,” Belichick said.


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If us take the Pats coach in ~ his word, then the most logical explanation because that the team cutting ties v Newton is his visibility in the locker room. By all accounts, the 2015 NFL MVP instantly took on a leadership duty when he come in new England critical season, which was hardly a surprise. Players have gravitated toward Newton transparent his career. Yet now that the Patriots have elevated rookie quarterback Mac Jones come the height of the depth chart, it made very little sense to have actually a huge personality favor Newton around, which can possibly undermine Jones’s status as the most crucial player on the team.

While those 2 theories do a many off-field sense, native an on-field perspective, cutting Newton wasn’t a reasonable move. Presume he no land a beginning job elsewhere, Newton will certainly instantly end up being the league’s best back-up QB the moment he indicators with his next team. Sure, he no play good football in 2020—few Patriots players did—but also that hobbled variation of the former All-Pro to be still plainly one the the 32 finest quarterbacks in the league. And also now the he’s coming off an outstanding preseason in which he looked favor a throwback version of himself, it would certainly seem he is in prime position to at some point get one more shot at starting in the league.

This offseason, the now-jobless quarterback boasted he was healthy for the very first time since he suffered a shoulder injury so late in 2016. It’s basic to write that off as best-shape-of-my-life offseason hype, but Newton’s preseason ice corroborates the claim. The looked spry in the pocket, and also it seemed favor he made an ext downfield litter in three August gamings than he had in every one of 2020.


Newton’s final throw in brand-new England was most likely the finest of his time there. It got in the box score together an interception, yet this pass—a 40-yard bomb dividing the two safeties in brand-new York’s Tampa 2 defense—was a reminder the Cam’s height in Carolina.


That one play have to answer any type of questions around the health and wellness of his shoulder. The Newton we experienced from 2018 come 2020 didn’t have that in him. Over there aren’t countless quarterbacks in the league who do.

If Newton’s arm is indeed ago to where it was prior to the shoulder injury, climate the best difference between this variation of him and also the one that led the Panthers to a Super key appearance ~ the 2015 season is most likely his speed. His 40 time has actually slowed down by a 10th or two, but he’s tho a significant threat on the ground that will elevate any kind of run video game you drop that into. Critical season, Lamar Jackson was the only quarterback that ran for an ext yards on designed carries, and also Newton led all QBs through a dozen rushing touchdowns, per pro Football Focus.

The 32-year-old’s waning athleticism has taken a toll fee on his scrambling ability. Yet Newton was never that big of a scrambler to start with—at least contrasted to other mobile quarterbacks around the league. The prefers to hang in the bag as lengthy as possible and wait for receivers to gain open downfield. Critical season, 25 quarterbacks attempted an ext passes exterior the pocket 보다 Newton did, every Sports info Solutions, and the team ahead that him consisted of names like Ben Roethlisberger, Kirk Cousins, and even Tom Brady. Heading into 2020, only four quarterbacks had actually thrown a greater percentage of your passes native the pocket because 2016, follow to next Gen Stats: Carson Palmer, Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, and Brady. Newton have the right to move much better than any of those passers; but inside the pocket, he is a little bit of a statue.


In that way, Newton isn’t your typical double threat quarterback. Whereas other mobile quarterbacks pick up many of your rush yards on referred to as pass plays, his rushing manufacturing comes on draft runs. Because that example: Russell Wilson and also Newton have actually rushed because that a similar number of yards during their careers. The Seahawks quarterback has actually 5,064 career rushing yards to his name; Newton is sit at 5,610. Yet 76.1 percent of Wilson’s yards have come ~ above scramble plays compared to 38.7 percent for Newton, every PFF.

Until Jackson come along in 2018, Newton was the just quarterback who likewise served as his team top option in the run game. Since of that, you virtually have to compartmentalize those two facets that his game and examine castle separately. Together a runner, Newton changed the sport and forced NFL groups to reassess just how they evaluate quarterbacks. Yet as a passer, the 2011 first overall pick is really an ext of a throwback. He’s challenging as hell in the pocket; he is willing to was standing in there and take a shot if it allows him to push the ball more downfield; and also while he hasn’t always been an efficient passer, his willingness to hunt big plays has actually helped minimize his accuracy issues. Newton is football’s variation of a volume shooter—the NFL’s Allen Iverson, if friend will.

If you desire a soccer comparison, here’s one you most likely haven’t heard before: Newton as this generation’s man Elway—at the very least in terms of talent and also skill set. Had actually the Broncos legend played in the 21st century, the would have actually been to run zone read and also QB power similar to Newton. Elway had actually the size and athleticism to do it, yet NFL offenses were’t running alternative concepts ago in the ’80s. For this reason Elway was strictly offered as a passer, and the results were originally not an extremely good. The former no. 1 pick had no trouble filling up a to mark reel through his big arm, but he wasn’t overly efficient—even by 1980s standards. Looking simply at the very first four years of his career, Elway’s closest statistical comps would be Blake Bortles, Jay Cutler, and also Josh Freeman, according to agree Football Reference.


John Elway at an early stage Career Stats (1983-1987)

Year DVOA rank Comp.% location Y/A location Year DVOA location Comp.% rank Y/A location
1983 31st 28th 27th
1984 16th 14th 22nd
1985 13th 16th 22nd
1986 11th 14th 17th
1987 6th 18th 5th

But Elway’s and also Newton’s developments followed a similar path. Their first great passing seasons came in Year 5, and also both led to MVP awards. Elway was 27 when he winner his only MVP. Newton was 26. Because that both, those breakout years were followed by a couple of down seasons, and also that’s wherein the two courses diverge. ~ being used as a red-zone battering ram because that years by Carolina, Newton’s body started to fail him. Elway didn’t have that problem. He had the ability to play through that late-20s/early-30s home window in which countless franchise quarterbacks make the leap mentally.

Newton showed indications of acquisition that next step throughout the 2018 season, once the Panthers finally surrounded him through a great supporting cast. He was on speed to collection career highs in basically every major passing category over the an initial half of that season, and he also got some early MVP buzz. Yet in a Thursday night game against Pittsburgh, Newton took a large hit from Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, which appeared to aggravate the shoulder injury he had actually suffered two years earlier. His play dropped off remarkable after that, and also he was deactivated as soon as the Panthers were removed from playoff contention. Newton had actually surgery ~ above his cram shoulder that adhering to offseason, and we haven’t checked out a lengthy stretch of reliable football from the since.


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It wasn’t till Elway’s age-33 season that he really came into his own as a passer. That’s as soon as we experienced a significant uptick in his efficiency, and also he repetitively made his means to the optimal of the NFL’s statistics leaderboards. Through his an initial nine seasons, Elway finished in the optimal 10 in DVOA just twice. He finished in the optimal 10 in 5 out the his last 6 seasons. Mike Shanahan’s return to Denver in 1995—he had actually twice served as Elway’s attack coordinator, but this time he gone into as head coach—helped press the Broncos quarterback also further. After years of law the heavy lifting for an underwhelming Denver roster, Elway ultimately had a an excellent support system about him. That had much more weapons to job-related with, and also Shanahan’s scheme didn’t questioning too much of the quarterback. The Broncos would certainly go on to success back-to-back super Bowls in Elway’s final two seasons, completely rewriting what had actually been thought about a somewhat disappointing career up till that point.

Newton is just 32, a year younger than Elway was once he started his late-career turnaround. If the free-agent quarterback deserve to stay healthy, and also maybe find a Shanahan that his own, there’s quiet plenty of time for a resurgence. Yet whether the happens can be the difference in between him being remembered together the quarterback who led a means for other twin threat QBs and also claiming part glory for himself in what could be the 3rd and last act the his career.

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