This feels like the perfect storm for Cam Newton — and Stephen A. Smith is worried about the resounding silence.
The ESPN host explained on Wednesday that he was concerned about Newton’s chances of playing in the NFL again if Washington, which is led by his former Panthers coach Ron Rivera, does not inquire about signing him in the wake of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s injury.
“If you thought two weeks ago was a bad week for Cam Newton when he got cut by the New England Patriots, this week might turn out to be even worse,” Smith said on “First Take,” via Audacy. “Because this week could potentially spell the end of Cam Newton’s NFL career.”
Newton was released by the Patriots before the season as the team opted to go with rookie Mac Jones as the starting quarterback. Newton, 32, said in an interview with his father that his “intimidating” presence was part of the reason the Patriots did not keep him as a backup.
Washington has not expressed any interest in Newton, yet. Taylor Heinicke will start in Fitzpatrick’s place on Thursday night against the Giants with Kyle Allen as the backup.
“He plays a little bit like his hair is on fire,” Rivera told the team’s website of Heinicke. “He plays a little bit like a gunslinger. But I think, and I hopefully believe, that he’s matured a little bit.”
When Newton was released by New England, Rivera said it “did pop up on our radar” before professing his confidence in the three quarterbacks on Washington’s roster. Whether that changes with Fitzpatrick reportedly out six-to-eight weeks remains to be seen.
It would have ben far-fetched for the team to try and sign Newton on the week before a Thursday night game. However, in his one season with the Patriots, Newton appeared to be a shadow of the quarterback that led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in the 2015-’16 season.
“Ron Rivera should be calling Cam Newton. Ron Rivera should be calling him yesterday, to be quite honest with you,” Smith said. “But what if he doesn’t? What if Rivera doesn’t make the call? What if Ron Rivera doesn’t make the call? What other team will — especially knowing that the guy who coached Cam for nine years, and needs a quarterback, still doesn’t bring him in?”