NFL free agency: Cam Newton ‘free and hungry’ in bleak quarterback market

One day after quarterback Cam Newton’s release from the Panthers, the 2015 NFL MVP is pushing forward in a free-agent market potentially bereft of interested parties for his physical style of play, effervescent personality and sartorial splendor.

“I’m free and hungry‼️😈 >>No pity party<< just work❕ #shineTHRUtheSHADE #notFORlikesJUSTforLIFE – 1OVE🤟🏾,” Newton wrote in his normal typeface on Instagram.

The former MVP joins another former No. 1 pick, Jameis Winston, in free agency with hopes to land a starting job. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton is another veteran who is likely to be traded and could be a potential starter.

There were around 10 teams who needed quarterbacks ahead of free agency, but after a whirlwind week of franchise tags, trades and blockbuster signings, that field has been narrowed to four: the Chargers, Patriots, Dolphins and Bengals.

The Bengals are expected to select LSU’s Joe Burrow with the top pick of next month’s NFL Draft, and the Patriots are reportedly not interested in either Newton or Winston.

“Regarding Cam Newton, it doesn’t appear the Patriots have any immediate interest in adding the QB, per source,” Jeff Howe wrote on Twitter.

The Dolphins are also expected to draft a quarterback next month, but might be in the market for a one-year bridge quarterback, especially if they take Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, who likely needs time to rehab from his hip injury. Miami could also stick with Ryan Fitzpatrick as that bridge.

The Chargers, who were expected to pursue Tom Brady, list Tyrod Taylor as their starter. That situation remains fluid, though they have hinted they are content with Taylor as their No. 1.

The Panthers have made a number of quarterback moves in recent days. Shortly after announcing the 30-year-old Newton was on the trading block last Tuesday, the team signed Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $60 million contract. On Monday, the Panthers signed XFL standout and former Temple player P.J. Walker and dealt Kyle Allen to the Redskins for a fifth-round pick.

Newton was officially released on Tuesday, freeing up $19.1 million in cap space.

“He’s the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said of Newton in a statement on Tuesday. “He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise.”

It’s a true testament to the current market that the Panthers were able to trade Allen and not the former Heisman Trophy winner. Newton, who inked a five-year, $103.8 million contract extension in 2015, carried a 2020 cap hit of $21.1 million and a dead-cap hit of just $2 million.

The Panthers reportedly engaged the Chargers and Bears, who eventually traded for Nick Foles, in talks.

Newton sat out most of the 2019 season after suffering a Lisfranc foot injury during the preseason against the Patriots and was eventually placed on injured reserve. Since his MVP season in 2015, when he led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance, the 6-foot-5, 245-pound signal-caller has been plagued with injuries that have severely hampered his success.

Newton attended University of Florida, Blinn College and the University of Auburn and was selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft by the Panthers. Over nine seasons, he has made four postseason appearances, three Pro Bowls and accrued 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns, 108 interceptions and a 59.6 completion percentage.

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