Cam Newton isn't finished yet. After spending the 2022 NFL season out of football, the former MVP quarterback is preparing for a potential return to the field. Newton threw at Auburn's Pro Day on Tuesday, arguing this week that there aren't 32 NFL QBs currently "better than me." His brother, Caylin, meanwhile, told the Associated Press that Newton's "still got it," and is "open and available" to any interested teams.
There's a reason Newton has been unsigned for more than a year. He's going on 34 with an extensive injury history, he admittedly struggled to pick up the Patriots' offense during his last full-time starting gig, and he hasn't posted above-average passing marks since his 2015 Super Bowl bid with the Panthers.
Still, he's remained a solid rushing threat when healthy -- you simply can't teach his size (6-5, 245) -- and there's always a need for quality QB insurance across the league. Provided he's willing to be a No. 2 at a modest salary, here are some potential landing spots for 2023:
Assuming Aaron Rodgers is eventually dealt to the Jets , Green Bay could use a more experienced backup as Jordan Love, 24, makes his debut as QB1. Danny Etling, the other signal-caller on the roster, has never thrown an NFL pass. Packers head coach Matt LaFleur could also have some fun deploying Newton alongside A.J. Dillon on short-yardage packages.
Dan Campbell likes him some tough guys with spunk, and Newton is precisely that. More importantly, Detroit doesn't have a single QB other than Jared Goff under contract. Perhaps another big splash is coming in the draft, but unless the Lions really shoot for the stars and pursue, say, Lamar Jackson, they could still use proven insurance as they prepare for a playoff bid.
After Chad Henne's retirement, Patrick Mahomes' projected backup is third-year reserve Shane Buechele, a former undrafted rookie who's yet to take an NFL snap. Is Andy Reid really going to take that route in the middle of an emergent dynasty? More than veteran insurance, Newton would give him yet another toy for his creative red-zone designs.
Lamar Jackson is technically under team control, but where do he and the front office actually stand? Barring a sudden breakthrough in long-term contract talks, Jackson feels destined for a whirlwind of a 2023 season, either in Baltimore or elsewhere. Newton could function as a similarly run-heavy weapon either in relief of Jackson or in place of him as a last-gasp stopgap, even if Tyler Huntley -- also a free agent -- returns as well.
It's unclear what Tennessee is doing in the big picture; after shedding some notable salaries, the Titans have tentatively retained two of their biggest, priciest names in Ryan Tannehill and Derrick Henry. But Tannehill is aging and coming off an injury-riddled season, and unpolished reserve Malik Willis is the only other QB under contract. Newton could potentially pair with Henry as a bruising ground option, and/or mentor Willis, who similarly leans on his legs, if Mike Vrabel wants more help under center.
Yes, they just paid Jimmy Garoppolo to replace Derek Carr, and yes, they may pursue a successor early in the draft. But former undrafted rookie Chase Garbers, who's yet to make his NFL debut, is the only other QB in tow, and Garoppolo has stayed healthy for a full season just once in his nine-year career. Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels worked with -- and spoke highly of -- Newton during their lone year together in New England, and Las Vegas could be at the position, knowing its real answer at QB may not come until 2024 or beyond.