Cam Newton’s next move could take him across the division, across the country, or even up to the NFL’s evil empire.
Or it could have him back in orange and blue.
The former Auburn star could be playing the Carolina Panthers twice a year with revenge on the mind after Tuesday’s public falling out with the franchise, if things go a certain way and he ends up with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Chargers, the Patriots and the Bears also appear to be potential suitors for the former league MVP.
Imagine him heading west to Los Angeles. Newton’s stardom could shine on marquees in Tinseltown across from LeBron James.
Or he could join the “dark side,” and often-hated New England, which just saw one super-talent leave and which could plug in another powerful piece to make for a new Death Star.
Newton’s looming trade from Carolina comes amid an active quarterback carousel in the NFL, which offers some insight on where the scorned superstar could land. Both the Panthers and Newton signaled for the end of their nine years together publicly on Tuesday, just before ESPN reported the same afternoon that his replacement, Teddy Bridgewater, was soon to be signed by Carolina.
The same day, Tom Brady said publicly that he’d be leaving New England, and Philip Rivers signed with the Indianapolis Colts per another report from ESPN. The league’s new year begins Wednesday and dominos are starting to fall.
No matter what, the Newton trade is sure to be a blockbuster.
Brady’s name has often been linked to Tampa Bay in speculation, as Jameis Winston enters free agency this offseason and is expected to leave there. It’s possible either Brady or Newton could go there, or go to Los Angeles where Philip Rivers just left and where the Chargers are set to play in their new stadium this fall.
For the Chargers, Newton would seemingly be the kind of box-office draw that could help fill that new stadium as the team tries to find its footing in Los Angeles. In Chicago, Mitchell Trubisky has been less than stellar, and the Bears would surely try for an upgrade.
Every team would have different reasons to bring in a former MVP. The Washington Redskins are now coached by Newton’s old coach, Ron Rivera, and could jump in the fold as well.
None may be able to offer what New England can, with an enticing team-up possible that could have both Newton and the Patriots feeling Super Bowl contenders again right away.
But there are hang-ups keeping teams from rushing to bring Newton in as soon as the league new year starts this morning. Newton has only one year left on his contract, and the team and player would surely be tasked with getting an extension signed as soon as he’s picked up. Then there’s the shoulder injury and nagging ankle issues that have kept him limited or sidelined for each of the last two seasons.
But the future will come elsewhere for Newton, and he hopes that with the change of scenery comes a change for the trajectory of his career.
It’s a new journey for Newton, leaving the only NFL team he has ever known. It’ll be a long one.
But surely, one of the most important steps will be this first one.