Patriots QB Cam Newton never really seemed to get back on track to the promise he showed early in 2020 before his COVID-19 diagnosis. And while he pushed back at the time against the idea that he had any kind of hangover from his bout with the virus, Newton now says the biggest challenge was how it set him back even more in catching up to the team’s encyclopedic scheme after not joining the team until June.
“I was one of the first football players to catch it, and it happened so fast,” Newton said on the I Am Athlete podcast via the Boston Globe. “When I came back, that’s where the lack of an offseason and the lack of time in the system really showed itself. I was behind and I was thinking too much. The offense kept going, and I was stagnant for two weeks. It was all new terminology. I wasn’t just trying to learn a system for what it was, I was learning a 20-year system in two months.”
Newton is once again projected to have a pretty tepid free-agent market and there have been some rumors he might be considering retirement, especially given his health concerns the two seasons prior. He wanted to shut that down, though, making it clear he believes he’s still a starting-level quarterback in the NFL.
“I can’t go out like that. I hear all of that talk. My pride won’t allow me to do it. There aren’t 32 guys better than me,” he said. “Put it like that. [And] I’m not 32.”
- Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer writes that after the season ended, Eagles GM Howie Roseman and QB Carson Wentz‘s agent, Ryan Tollner, got on a call and Tollner expressed that he didn’t think Philadelphia was the right fit for his client anymore after debriefing with him and that the Eagles should try and get what they could in a trade.
- Roseman didn’t commit to anything but gave Tollner permission to gauge the market and his first call was to the Colts.
- As to how the relationship deteriorated, Breer explains that in Wentz’s best season he had a good cop in HC Doug Pederson, medium cop in OC Frank Reich and bad cop in QB John DeFilippo. After Reich and DeFilippo left and WR coach Mike Groh was promoted to OC in 2018, Wentz frequently clashed with him and his bad cop style, which led to a perception the team was coddling him when it fired Groh after a season.
- Breer adds Wentz struggled to relate to everyone in the locker room. He wasn’t seen as a bad guy, he just couldn’t connect as well with some teammates, especially compared to QB Nick Foles who could build relationships with everybody. Wentz was also described as having a Type-A personality, stubborn, frequently quizzing coaches on the why and having high standards for teammates. Breer notes none of those attributes are necessarily rare in top quarterbacks, the issue became Wentz’s production wasn’t matching that.
- Breer points out that, whether it should or not, the Eagles drafting QB Jalen Hurts in the second round blindsided him and was taken as a suggestion his position as the team’s franchise quarterback wasn’t as secure as it seemed.
- When the season started, Wentz didn’t understand why Hurts was being put on the field to run the same zone-read concepts he had tons of experience running in college, and that contributed to his loss of trust in Pederson, per Breer.
- Ultimately Breer says the Eagles decided it would be riskier to bring back a disgruntled Wentz and have him potentially nuke his value even further by losing a competition to Hurts when he wasn’t bought-in on the team, so they traded him despite their massive investment.
- Their initial asking price of two first-round picks drove away everyone except the Colts and the Bears, according to Breer. DeFilippo as the Bears’ QB coach told the organization he thought Wentz was fixable but Chicago never made an offer for a variety of reasons.
- Once Colts GM Chris Ballard told the Eagles early last week his offer, based on what the Chiefs traded for QB Alex Smith, had an expiration date, things moved more quickly after stalling for a couple of weeks.
Becoming a cap casualty last week wasn’t surprising for former Panthers DT Kawann Short after he missed most of the past two seasons with season-ending shoulder injuries to both joints. Short said his departure from Carolina was “respectful” and the door was left open for him to come back after testing the market. A few teams have reached out so far, per Short, but he’s expecting to need to sign a one-year deal to prove he’s healthy.
“We had a few teams reach out, but none set in stone,” Short said in an interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “We’re really trying to narrow it down to see what’s the best fit for me, the best fit for my family.”