The Chargers have been consistently mentioned as a landing spot for Cam Newton, and he now carries absolutely no risk.
As the Carolina Panthers seemed certain to move on from Cam Newton, the Los Angeles Chargers have an easy landing spot as they moved on from their own long-time quarterback in Philip Rivers. They do seem sure to draft a quarterback with the sixth overall pick in April’s draft, or move up from there to get the guy they want (Tua Tagovailoa?).
Now that Newton is going to be cut, any team that may have had interest in trading for him does not have to take on a $19.1 million base salary and a $21.1 million cap hit for 2020. It was the last year of his contract, but the inability to put him through a physical with team doctors led to Newton becoming unlikely to be traded. A shoulder issue ended his 2018 season early, and a foot injury cost him all but two games last year.
So teams with interest in Newton now can set the price with favorable contract parameters, even if it’s on a multi-year deal that he’d surely prefer. Right now, Tyrod Taylor is set to be the Chargers’ Week 1 starter as they move into a new stadium. Taylor is just fine, and underappreciated overall, but his presence creates no buzz as the Chargers try to get a piece of the fan base in Los Angeles. Newton carries the kind of star power the Chargers need, and were pursuing right to the end with Tom Brady.
The Chargers, or any other team, can tie all of Newton’s compensation in 2020 (and/or beyond,if applicable) to passing a physical when one can be safely done. If their team doctors don’t clear him, the Chargers can just stick with Taylor and draft whoever they would have anyway.
Placing a full pay contingency on passing a physical probably won’t sit well with Newton and his agent. But they are not operating with any leverage right now. The Chargers have nothing to lose by making a quick offer once Newton is officially cut, with a mix of aggressiveness to be first in line and reason in terms of years and payout structure.