The ingredients are all there.
The Los Angeles Chargers just cut ties with long-time quarterback Phillip Rivers. In all likelihood, whoever will be the main signal caller for this team is not currently on the roster. One potential option, Cam Newton, is not currently on a team at all.
And according to former NFL quarterback and current ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky, Newton and the Chargers are a hand-and-glove match.
What it would mean
It is almost certain that Los Angeles will select a quarterback in this draft. Oregon signal-caller Justin Herbert has been the primary name floated around for this team. However, like Orlovsky said, this roster is built to win right now, and a rookie QB may not be the best option for that.
Still more than a month to go, and a lot can change, but I was told at the combine that Justin Herbert was the backup plan if the Chargers couldn't land Tom Brady.
— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) March 18, 2020
In the copy-cat league that is the NFL, Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs have been the team that everyone wants to follow. In 2017, Reid drafted current quarterback and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes. But the Chiefs sat Mahomes for a year to sit and learn under veteran Alex Smith. Kansas City went to the playoffs that season with Smith, but went to an entirely different level of production once Mahomes took the snaps the next season.
The Chargers could attempt the same type of thing here. A team that has plenty of pieces to make a run could make the experience Newton its QB now, while they groom a rookie, whether that be Herbert or somebody else. This allows Los Angeles a legitimate shot to win now, as well as sets them up for the future.
What it would cost
The Carolina Panthers cut Newton and saved $19.1 million of his $21.1 million salary cap number. The 31-year-old has one year left on his deal at $18.6 million.
That may be a heftier price than desired for a quarterback that was injured most of last season and older than 30. However, the Chargers could potentially navigate around that. They would be paying for potential to see plays like this:
Cam Newton carrying an NFL safety 12 yards up the field. pic.twitter.com/noHQ4qUSHy
— John Ellis (@OnePantherPlace) March 26, 2020
With every passing day, the Newton market shrinks. The more the market shrinks, perhaps the more willing Newton could potentially be to restructuring.
However, even if he didn’t restructure, there is only one year left on the deal. He would not be the Chargers long-term answer anyway. If it does not work out, Los Angeles has an easy out by the end of the upcoming season.
This essentially means a low-risk option for a team that has no identity in its quarterback room right now anyway. It mostly depends on how early the Chargers plan on throwing a quarterback they draft into the game, assuming LA still drafts a QB.