The official start of NFL free agency isn’t even until Wednesday, but there’s already been a considerable amount of activity regarding its sexiest position of all – quarterback.
Let’s take a look at what’s already happened.
The Tennessee Titans re-signed Ryan Tannehill to a four-year, $118 million deal that includes $62 million of guaranteed money.
The New Orleans Saints re-signed Drew Brees for two years and $50 million.
The Dallas Cowboys placed the exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott, meaning they will pay him a 2020 salary equal to at least the average of the top-five quarterback salaries in the league – or around $33 million.
The Las Vegas Raiders signed Marcus Mariota to be Derek Carr’s backup.
And on Tuesday, Tom Brady announced he would not be returning to the New England Patriots after 20 seasons.
But maybe the most interesting move of all might be this: The Carolina Panthers have decided to allow Cam Newton to seek a trade, thereby ending their relation with the top QB in franchise history.
“One of the distinct pleasures of my career was selecting Cam with the first pick in the 2011 draft,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. “Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts.”
Newton reacted immediately after the Panthers posted the news on social media:
“Stop with the word play. I never asked for it. There is no dodging this one. I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys. Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this. You forced me into this. Love.”
Newton will be 31 in May. And his physical condition continues to be a question mark. He is rehabilitating from Lisfranc surgery performed in December. But a league source told ESPN that Newton was expected to be ready for June mini camp.
The bottom line is, Newton wants everyone to know it was not his idea to part company. The franchise’s career leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns and rushing TDs apparently was interested in coming back for the 2020 season.
Interestingly enough, former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who just signed with the Seattle Seahawks, backed up Newton’s sentiment with his own.
“Sounds familiar,” posted Olsen.
Looks like there is some dissatisfaction with the Panthers front office.
What does this mean for the Panthers? Word is they are very interested in signing Teddy Bridgewater, who has spent the last two seasons backing up Brees in New Orleans. In fact, The Athletic is reporting they are very close to a deal.
New Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady worked with Bridgewater as an offensive assistant with the Saints. Bridgewater was 5-0 in place of the injured Brees this season and has started in the past for the Minnesota Vikings.
The problem is, the Panthers aren’t the only team interested in Bridgewater. There are reports the Chicago Bears are interested as are the Patriots.
According to Pro Football Talk, Bridgewater, 27, is seeking about $21 million a season. The Bears would presumably then slip him ahead of Mitchell Trubisky on the depth chart.
What’s certain is, the Panthers are headed in a different direction under first-year coach Matt Ruhle. And they are not delusional enough to believe they can go into the 2020 season with either Kyle Allen or Will Grier as their QB.
Allen started 12 games for the Panthers in 2019 after Newton was sidelined with a foot injury. He played well at the start, then slid badly thereafter. However, the Panthers re-signed Allen to a one-year deal just a week ago.
Even before Newton’s situation is settled, we may also find out what’s to become of veterans Philip Rivers and Andy Dalton. It was reported Tuesday Rivers would be signing with the Indianapolis Colts. And it’s conceivable Dalton could be traded to a number of teams in need, maybe even the Patriots, who almost certainly aren’t going to go into next season with Jarrett Stidham as their starter.