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NFL GM: Cam Newton in ‘evident’ decline

Cam Newton throws pass during NFL game
Sep 12, 2019; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes the ball during the second quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton remains a free agent nearly two months after being released by the Carolina Panthers. While the former NFL MVP looked sharp in a recent workout, one NFL general manager has now called into question just how much talent Newton has left.

The 31-year-old quarterback missed 14 games this past season then underwent surgery on his foot in December. Despite Newton’s incredible resume and the number of teams in need of more help at quarterback, he hasn’t received much interest in free agency.

According to one anonymous general manager, per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer, it’s in part because of Newton’s declining ability. While the unidentified executive admitted there’s a chance Newton can rebound from this, he also cited that Newton’s “decline is evident” as reasoning for him still being a free agent.

It’s true that Newton is no longer the caliber of player that won the NFL MVP award and led his team to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. He also struggled in the only two games he played this past season, averaging just 6.4 yards per attempt and not throwing a touchdown on 89 attempts.

However, those struggles could be attributed to this Lisfranc injury he suffered early in the preseason and tried to play through. He also was just a few months removed from recovery from right shoulder surgery. Before that, even while playing through pain in his shoulder in 2018, Newton had a 94.2 quarterback rating with a 24-13 TD-INT ratio and completed 67.9% of his passes.

Visible decline didn’t stop teams from signing Philip Rivers, Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton and Marcus Mariota. Even with Newton’s decline, he is still a superior talent to Jeff Driskel, Case Keenum, Blaine Gabbert, Brett Hundley and David Fales.

It’s understandable if teams want to examine Newton at their facilities and see him throw in person before signing him, which can’t happen until facilities open. But citing Newton’s decline in talent lacks merit when it didn’t stop organizations from signing inferior talent.