Why Cam Newton is the Answer for the LA Chargers
On March 24th, 2020, breaking news came out on Twitter reporting that the Carolina Panthers will be releasing former three time pro bowler, 2015 MVP winner Cam Newton.
After having an injury plagued 2019 season, it seemed in the best interest for the Panthers to start fresh, as the Panthers hired Matt Rhule to become their new head coach and signing former Saints quarterback, Teddy Bridgewater to a three year, 60 million dollar deal.
While this is the end of the Newton era in Charlotte, Newton's recent injuries made this move easier than it had to be. Newton had begun dealing with a shoulder injury late into the 2018 season and tried to play through it. When Newton's injury occurred, the Panthers were 6-2. After Newton sustained his injury and tried to play the rest of the season, the Panthers went 1-7 to a final 7-9 record. According to Pro Football Reference, Newton had a 86.1 QB rating, averaged 242.7 YPG, and had 9 touchdowns to interceptions when playing injured. While Newton's play cant take the entire blame for the Panthers struggles, his performance was never the same.
Going into the 2019 season was a big year for Newton to show his shoulder is back to normal and can guide the Panthers back into the playoffs. In Newton's two only starts on the season, it was clear Newton wasn't ready and wasn't the same cornerstone player he used to be, allowing the Panthers to move in a new direction.
While reports came out saying that Newton wanted to be traded after the signing of Teddy Bridgewater, Newton was quick to go on social media and tell everyone how he really feels about the reports, claiming "you forced me into this" on the Panthers instagram. While this may be a tough break up for Newton, this may truly be a blessing in disguise for his next destination.
Without a doubt, Cam Newton would be a significant addition for any NFL team to bring in, but if Newton wants to reclaim his glory and win a championship, the best fit for him will be the LA Chargers.
The LA Chargers are coming off a quite disappointing offseason, going 5-11 on the season after a 12-4 year and a AFC Divisional Round appearance to the Super Bowl champion Patriots. Going into the season, expectations were quite high for a 37 year old Phillip Rivers. Phillip Rivers has been the franchise quarterback for the Chargers for over 16 years with a record for being one of the most clutch quarterbacks with 32 career game winning drives and 27 fourth quarter comebacks as a Charger. After having his eighth career pro bowl selection in 2018, 2019 seemed to be a rough year for his workhorse. Once the 2019 season ended, Rivers decided it was best for him to go elsewhere, signing with the Indianapolis Colts for a one year, 25 million dollar contract, leaving the Chargers for the first time in his career since being traded to San Diego in the 2004 NFL draft.
Once Rivers signed with the Colts, it has been reported that Taylor would become the Chargers starting quarterback for the 2020 season, before the news of Cam Newton being released.
Tyrod Taylor has been a consistent quarterback throughout his career, being most remembered for being the starting quarterback for the 2017 Bills, the season they broke their 18 year playoff drought, going 8-6 in games Taylor started in. As Tyrod Taylor may not be known for the same traits as Phillip Rivers, Taylor provides the Chargers with a more mobile quarterback that can be able to scramble, as Taylor's former nickname in Buffalo was "T-Mobile" with runs such as the one below.
As Tyrod Taylor's speed may be enticing for the Chargers offense, his previous tenure with the Cleveland Browns may leave some fans questioning whether Taylor should be a locked in starter. While Tyrod Taylor may be a solid quarterback in LA, a Chargers-Newton duo would be essential for the Chargers to become an AFC contender for a variety of reasons.
1. Capable Offensive Weapons
One major flaw Newton had to deal with throughout his time in Carolina has having reliable receivers. According to Pro Football Reference, the 2017 Panthers went 11-5 with not having a single receiver having over 850 receiving yards on Newton's 3,302 passing yards with 27 dropped passes on the season. Throughout Newton's tenure in Carolina, his most noticeable recent receiver was Devin Funchess in 2017 with 840 passing yards. While Newton has had one reliable target being Greg Olsen, things would be much different in LA.
Having a bonified star receiver in Keenan Allen would be beneficial for Newton to revive his career again. Keenan Allen, who had 1,199 yards last season and hasn't had below 1,100 yards since 2016, alongside Mike Williams who had 1,001 receiving yards last season gives Newton the weapons needed to succeed. Although Newton completed more passes to his tight ends than receivers, Newton will have a healthy Hunter Henry to throw to, giving Newton a lot more freedom in the offense with weapons all across the field.
2. Similar Running Games
Let me make this clear: I'm not saying that Austin Ekeler is as good or better than Christian McCaffrey. As McCaffrey is one of the greatest running backs in the NFL with his ability to be anything he wants to be as a running back or receiver, the Chargers have a young back who could possibly replicate some of what McCaffrey has done for Newton. Austin Ekeler will continue to be the lead back for the Chargers after becoming their 2019 starter, as Ekeler will be used as both a running back and receiver once again. Last season, Eckler rushed for 553 yards and also had 993 receiving yards with 11 total touchdowns, showing everybody his versatility in any offense. While the Chargers did rank 28th in rushing yards, expect Newton to run more often with all of his options he has. If there is any running back Newton would like to have that can play a similar role McCaffrey played for Newton in 2018, its easily Austin Ekeler.
3. Regain a Home Field Advantage
It has been no secret that the move to Los Angeles has not settled well with Chargers fans. Attendance has always played a massive issue at StubHub Center, as Chargers games are either empty, or filled with all opposition fans making it an away game for the Chargers. The Chargers ranked last in attendance last season with only 31,750 as the next closest team was the Benagls with 47,000 fans on average, which is quite drastic as the average attendance was Buffalo with 68,839 fans. A major factor of the small group of fans can also be due to playing in a smaller stadium than anyone else, but still with all the photos of empty seats throughout, its best to leave StubHub Center in the past.
As the Chargers will play their 2020 at SoFi Stadium with the Rams, they need to get another big name player to fill in those new seats in one of the biggest cities in America. The Chargers are already equipped with a top ten defense in the league with stars like Joey Bosa, Derwin James, Thomas Davis, and Desmond King, having a quarterback in Newton scrambling for rushing TD's and his big following may finally bring some life back into Chargers games.
While as of right now, Cam Newton is still a free agent and has a variety of options to choose from as of where he may go. Theres the chance that Newton may become the replacement for Tom Brady in New England or possibly even the Raiders as they've made it clear they will always try to upgrade their quarterback position. While the opportunities may be endless for Cam Newton on where his career may take him, the best win-win scenario for Newton and an NFL team would easily be the LA Chargers.