In an 18-minute YouTube video released on Wednesday, former NFL quarterback Cam Newton wanted to make one thing perfectly clear: he’d like to return to the playing field. He hasn’t played since returning to the Carolina Panthers for one disappointing season in 2021.
“I know a lot of people have a lot of things to say in regards to my future in the NFL,” he explained. “And I wanted to set the record straight by saying, ‘This is how I feel.’
“There ain’t 32 guys that’s better than me. But I also know that I could also be a backup — and I’m willing to be a backup.”
Could Newton a candidate be a candidate to play behind Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes?
From the Chiefs’ side, that will largely depend on how the team feels about third-year quarterback Shane Buechele, who hasn’t yet appeared in a regular-season game. If it is believed that the former SMU quarterback is ready to be the first option behind Mahomes, then the Chiefs probably aren’t even considering signing a veteran backup.
But in all five of Mahomes’ seasons as a starter, the team has been a championship contender — and had now-retired Chad Henne as the backup quarterback. (Henne spent 2019 on injured reserve, so Matt Moore stepped in when Mahomes missed two games with an injury).
When Kansas City first signed Henne, he was 33. Newton will turn 34 on May 11. Henne had nine years of NFL experience. Newton has 11 — and is not only a Super Bowl veteran, but a former league MVP. When he came to the Chiefs, Henne had a career passer rating of 75.5 — and hadn’t started a game in almost four years. Newton has a career passer rating of 85.2 — but had his most-recent start less than two years ago.
But would Newton consider playing behind Mahomes?
“I want to win,“ said Newton. “That’s the only reason why I play this game. It’s not for individual accolades they come, but that’s not the main sole focus of why I play. I play because I wanna win. I want to hoist any type of team award — and that’s what it really pretty much comes down to.
“So any team that I’ve ever been on, I just desire to win more than anything else.”
So far, so good, right? If you want to be on a winning team. it’s hard to beat the Chiefs in recent years. But Newton wanted to give specifics.
“So there’s the narrative that’s out there that says, you know, Cam does not want to be a backup,” he noted. “I never said I didn’t want to be a backup. So I’m gonna take this time to explain who and what situation I would want to be a backup to. I think that’s what everybody wants to know, anyway.”
So... stogie in hand, Newton gave his list of 12 quarterbacks he’d be willing to play behind.
He mentioned the Cleveland Browns’ Deshaun Watson, the Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields, the Miami Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa, the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jalen Hurts, the Buffalo Bills’ Josh Allen, the Washington Commanders’ Sam Howell and the Tennessee Titans’ Malik Willis — although as far as we know, Ryan Tannehill is still the Titans’ starter.
Newton also mentioned two quarterbacks who could easily be elsewhere in 2023: the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
Finally, Newton said he’d be happy to back up three quarterbacks who haven’t yet played an NFL snap: draft prospects C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young and Anthony Richardson.
That’s right: Mahomes isn’t on Newton’s list.
But since Newton insisted that he wanted to play on a winning team, you’d have to expect that if the Chiefs made him an offer, he’d consider it.
Is that an offer that Kansas City general manager Brett Veach might make? We don’t know.
But we do know one thing: back before March 16, 2018, it would have been very hard to find someone who would have predicted that Henne would be the Chiefs’ backup quarterback for the next four seasons.
So we’ll see.