Jeff Reinebold: Cam Newton's big personality a factor in his search for new team
"The potential would exist with him in the locker room to be a divided locker room real fast"
By Cameron Hogwood
Last Updated: 14/05/20 2:32pm
The NFL offseason is into May and one-time league MVP Cam Newton remains without a team.
"They gave up on me" said Newton on social media as the Carolina Panthers announced they were preparing to move on from him in March. He may not be the same electrifying dual-threat quarterback that exploded onto the scene in 2011 and led his team to the Super Bowl in 2015, but there is a chip on his shoulder capable of fuelling a second wave to his career.
With no obvious starting jobs currently presenting themselves, the recently-turned 31-year-old is reportedly open to taking a backup job, no doubt in view of establishing himself as starter further down the line.
The salient question being - who will take him?
Speaking on Inside the Huddle, Jeff Reinebold explained: "One of the concerns you would have when you bring in a personality like Cam, a big personality, I'm not saying anything about him being a bad guy, I think he's a great guy. He's very, very popular with his teammates, he's a quarterback that has led a team to a Super Bowl.
"He has obviously been hurt but he will be a popular guy in the locker room. The potential would exist with him in the locker room to be a divided locker room real fast, because there would be a number of players on that team that will gravitate towards him because of his personality, what he's done and his pedigree."
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Newton saw his 2018 season limited to 14 games due to a shoulder problem and managed just two appearances in 2019 before being placed on injured reserve because of a Lisfranc fracture.
New Carolina head coach Matt Rhule openly expressed his excitement to work with Newton while speaking at this year's Scouting Combine. That scenario would never materialise as the Panthers released a statement permitting Newton to seek a trade before eventually releasing him following the arrival of free agent Teddy Bridgewater.
The Chicago Bears loomed as a potential landing spot, but turned to Nick Foles as competition for Mitchell Trubisky. The Los Angeles Chargers were another possibility, but committed to Tyrod Taylor and drafted Justin Herbert. The Las Vegas Raiders added Marcus Mariota as support for Derek Carr and the Washington Redskins signed Newton's former teammate Kyle Allen as healthy rivalry for second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
With all he has achieved and the vocal leader that he is, it is difficult to imagine the three-time Pro Bowl selection sitting as an understudy.
Reinebold continued: "I think that's one of the things teams are a little bit cautious of, how is he going to come in and fit in?
"As you hear him make these comments that he would be willing to come to a place and be a good backup and learn, a lot of the same things Jameis said when he went to New Orleans, I think really what he's doing is advertising himself for one of the backup jobs."
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Ryan Tannehill's decision to backup Mariota in Tennessee last season paid dividends as he won the starting role, led the Titans to the playoffs, won 2019 Comeback Player of the Year and, ultimately, reignited his career.
After losing his starting job to Tom Brady in Tampa Bay, Jameis Winston signed with the New Orleans Saints to learn from Drew Brees in a bid to continue learning and refresh his career.
"That may be the direction he has to go to get back in the league," said Reinebold.