Cam Newton is suddenly one of the most eye-catching names on the free-agent market and a raft of NFL teams could benefit from having the 2015 MVP on their roster – but none more so than the Dallas Cowboys.
New England Patriots head coach and general manager Bill Belichick made the move to cut Cam Newton on Tuesday, leaving 2021 first-round draft pick Mac Jones to take control of the six-time Super Bowl champions’ offense and the former Carolina Panthers quarterback available for hire.
Hours earlier, the Cowboys were trimming their own roster. QBs Garrett Gilbert and Ben DiNucci were shown the door, with owner and general manager Jerry Jones and head coach Mike McCarthy set to keep veteran Cooper Rush to back up star passer Dak Prescott.
Dak Prescott missed almost the entire pre-season, undergoing multiple MRIs on his shoulder and ankle. The Cowboys are now fully focused on getting their sixth-year signal caller in perfect shape in time for the 2021 season opener against Tom Brady’s defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers on September 9.
Missing 10 full practices was far from the ideal preparation for a new season for Dak Prescott and, even if he is 100% ready to roll in Week 1, is it finally time for the Cowboys to consider an upgrade to their QB insurance plan? And is newly available Cam Newton the man to fill the void?
Could Cam Newton be the answer to Dallas' injury woes?
"I just think he's shown that he can run the complete offense," Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones told 105.3 The Fan when asked about Cooper Rush, who's yet to start an NFL game after going undrafted in 2017.
"Credit to him. He had some tough competition. Those guys didn't cut him any slack.
"He's had a lot of reps. All of our quarterbacks had because of the absence of Dak. All of those things make us feel real comfortable here."
But have the Cowboys been too comfortable for too long with their backup QB situation? Cooper Rush hardly blew away his camp rivals in earning his roster spot with a solid yet uninspiring 97-yard, two-touchdown effort against the Houston Texans in Week 3 of pre-season, proving enough to avoid being cut.
After a compound fracture and dislocated right ankle in Week 5 ended Prescott’s 2020 season prematurely, optimism around a post-season run quickly disappeared as quarterback depth options Andy Dalton, Ben DiNucci and Garrett Gilbert combined to guide America’s Team to a 6-10 finish.
In a wide-open NFC East, fine margins are likely to be the difference between securing a home playoff berth and missing out on January football altogether – which is where Cam Newton could prove to be Dallas' difference-maker in the event of another Dak Prescott injury.
Admittedly, the 32-year-old is five years removed from his greatest achievement, leading the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl. Following an underwhelming 2020 season, Cam Newton will be aware his chances of earning a starting job have faded and his mental focus will be to offer as much value as possible from the bench.
In the event he is called upon, Cam Newton will still be a danger in the running game, particularly as a red-zone threat, as he showed while scoring 12 touchdowns last season. Lining up alongside Ezekiel Elliott would cause headaches for any goal-line defense.
Earlier in training camp, Jerry Jones said he would do "anything known to man" to once again lift the Vince Lombardi Trophy after a 26-year wait. If that bold statement is true, perhaps the emergency quarterback seat should be reserved for Cam Newton on the Cowboys’ quest for the promised land.