NFL Free Agency Fantasy Fallout: Cam Newton is headed toward the late rounds of drafts

Cam Newton has been a Fantasy football hero from the moment he entered the league in 2011. Five times has he finished in the top 10 at his position, he’s currently third all-time in career rushing yards for a quarterback and no passer has run for as many touchdowns (58).

But he’s not Superman anymore. The soon-to-be 31-year-old quarterback known as much for his rushing abilities as for his incredible wardrobe has undergone significant procedures on his throwing shoulder and foot in consecutive offseasons. He’s due $21 million in 2020 and will be a free agent next offseason. He’s had a completion percentage north of 62% once in his nine-year career. He’s had three winning seasons.

If Newton’s situation feels like someone in your Fantasy league dangling a streaming quarterback option in a trade, that’s because that’s exactly what’s happening. Newton cannot be viewed as a franchise player anymore (if he were, the Panthers wouldn’t be replacing him with Teddy Bridgewater). 

Newton’s foot surgery could collapse his floor in terms of rushing production. He barely ran in the two games he played in last year and seemed to begin limiting his rush attempts when he fell to 7.2 carries per game in 2018. Rushing has always been a huge part of his stats — counting on Newton as solely a passer has always been risky.

That should be enough to take Newton out of consideration for a top-120 pick in Fantasy drafts no matter where he winds up. But that also means the only real risk in drafting Newton is that you might burn a late-round pick on him. That’s not the worst thing in the world considering his pedigree.

There are four teams — the Chargers, Bears, Buccaneers and Patriots — that seemingly have openings at quarterback. The Chargers have the best group of targets, followed by the Buccaneers, but the Bucs have the most aggressive offense. The Bears offense has proven to be creative and willing to let their quarterbacks run, which fits Newton fine. The Patriots offense has been reliant on accuracy more than anything else.

Newton’s best bet to redeem some of the production we’ve seen from him previously is in L.A. with the Chargers. There are just too many good players around him for him to struggle mightily as a passer. His rushing prowess already figures to be on a steep decline, but without a power back on the Chargers roster, maybe he’d fill in for five or six rushing touchdowns. He’d be worth a post-120th overall pick there.

Tampa Bay as a destination for Newton wouldn’t be far off from what he’d have with the Chargers. Arguably, Tampa Bay’s top two receivers are better than the Chargers duo. But would the Bucs really pay Newton $21 million for one year when they could just give Jameis Winston a contract and keep the continuity with him? That landing spot seems unlikely.

Chicago is desperate for quarterback competition for Mitchell Trubisky, but would they take Newton at his current price tag over a potentially cheaper option like Andy Dalton or, assuming he re-works his contract, Nick Foles? Maybe Newton is more likely to land in Chicago than in Tampa Bay, but Fantasy managers wouldn’t be as excited to draft him if he goes there.

And the Patriots need a veteran presence under center for sure, but if they were sensitive to paying a ton for Brady, they probably will see Newton’s current contract as prohibitive. There would be about as much interest in Newton with the Pats and there would be with him in Chi-town.

It’s not rare to see veteran quarterbacks change teams and thrive elsewhere for a season or two. Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Rich Gannon, Trent Green and Michael Vick did it. Newton should have the chance to make it happen — that might be enough to make him an interesting choice late in 2020 Fantasy drafts.

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