With Cam Newton still a free agent, could the Arizona Cardinals make sense for the former MVP as insurance in case Kyler Murray suffers an injury?
As the idea they could trade him faded, the Carolina Panthers didn’t do Cam Newton any favors by waiting until free agency started to release him. Any landing spots where a starting job could have been available were either gone by then (Chicago Bears) or are now all but gone (New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers).
Newton could wait until deep into the preseason to sign somewhere, on the notion a team loses its starting quarterback to a significant injury. But it might be beneficial for him to land somewhere more quickly, get embedded into whatever offseason work will be, and then be flipped to a team in need at that point if it came to be. Or there’s also the path Jameis Winston is set to take with the New Orleans Saints, tabbed as a clear-cut backup who won’t have to play barring injury.
The Arizona Cardinals seemingly found their franchise quarterback last year, as No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray went on to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. But he also took a tied for league-high 48 sacks, and he was hampered by a hamstring issue last year despite starting all 16 games. Despite his great mobility, his small build (5-foot-10, 207 pounds) adds a bit of injury risk.
Brett Hundley served as Murray’s backup last year and barely played (11 pass attempts). But did offer a sample of more extended play (basically 10 full games) with the Green Bay Packers in 2017, when Aaron Rodgers was injured. The results were not good (nine touchdowns, 12 interceptions, 60.8 percent completion rate).
The 48 sacks they allowed cover the fact the Cardinals’ offensive line was 10th-best in the league in pass block win rate last year. Third-round pick Josh Jones may step in immediately at right tackle, but he is taking a step up from AAC competition in college to the NFL and he is sure to have some early growing pains.
Murray is not going anywhere, and the Cardinals are a team on the rise with him under center. But if he were to be sidelined for any real length of time, Hundley has already shown he can’t keep an otherwise good team on a winning track.
The Cardinals should have some interest in Newton, if only because signing him carries no real risk and he’s an easy upgrade behind Murray. With his options very thin, this side of Pittsburgh or any notion that New England will change course, Arizona should be on the former MVP’s radar and he would benefit from taking a firm step back for a year.