The Cleveland Browns spent decades trying to fix the quarterback situation using every available means possible.
Some examples include:
- High draft picks? Tim Couch (1999), Brady Quinn (2007), Brandon Weeden (2012), Johnny Manziel (2014) and Baker Mayfield (2018) have that covered.
- Mid-round draft picks built on hope? Luke McCown (2004), Charlie Frye (2005), Colt McCoy (2010), Cody Kessler (2016) and DeShone Kizer (2017) check that box.
- Stopgaps in free agency? Jeff Garcia (2004), Trent Dilfer (2005), Jason Campbell (2013), Brian Hoyer (2014), Josh McCown (2015) and Robert Griffin III (2016)? Come on down!
The Browns are banking on quarterback Deshaun Watson finally solving the problem as he heads into the 2023 season as the unquestioned starter now that he is available for the full season.
General manager Andrew Berry also filled out the quarterback room by bringing back Josh Dobbs in free agency to be QB2 and having Kellen Mond around for another year as the development quarterback.
The idea that the team can finally have a normal offseason devoted to building the offense around the strengths of Watson without any outside distractions should be very appealing to everyone involved.
This brings us to Cam Newton, last seen posting a quarterback rating of 64.4 while making five starts for the Carolina Panthers in 2021.
Newton has been in the news recently after a brief throwing session at Auburn’s pro day in March, after which he stated his belief that there are not 32 quarterbacks in the NFL that are better than him.
He was back at it again on Wednesday after posting a YouTube video listing 12 quarterbacks that he would be gracious enough to serve as a backup if a team was willing to bring him on board.
At the top of Newton’s list are the Browns given his history with Watson, who Newton pointed out was on his 7-on-7 All-Star team back in the day.
While Watson responded to Newton via Twitter with a message of “That’s my family,” the reality is there is no value to the Browns considering a soon-to-be 34-year-old quarterback who did not play in the NFL last season and has been on the decline for a few years.
Newton’s last full season as a starter was with the New England Patriots in 2020, and he mostly struggled, throwing for 2,657 yards with just 8 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. In fact, three of his eight touchdown passes that season came in the season finale against the Jets, long after both teams had been eliminated from postseason contention.
As for his eight touchdown passes, only Kenny Pickett threw fewer (seven) in 2022 than Newton in 2020 among qualifying passers, and Pickett was just a rookie still figuring things out in the NFL — not in his 10th NFL season like Newton was at the time.
Unfortunately, his 2021 season was poor by just about every standard, albeit on a much smaller sample size. His overall PFF grade finished at 53.3, which would have ranked ahead of only Ben Roethlisberger and Mike Glennon had he played enough snaps to qualify, and only Glennon had a lower passing grade than Newton’s 46.5. Newton’s 73.8 rushing grade was the second highest of his career, though — even better than his MVP season.
The Browns have finally settled down regarding the quarterback position and appear to have built a solid position group with Watson, Dobbs and Mond. Bringing in a player like Newton would also bring additional attention at a time when the Browns need to keep it quiet and focused on the upcoming season, not create another media circus.