Ron Rivera slams door on Cam Newton-to-Washington speculation originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
You can go ahead and delete those photoshops of Cam Newton in a No. 1 Washington Football Team jersey.
Washington head coach Ron Rivera confirmed Monday the team has no plans to bring in another quarterback after Ryan Fitzpatrick suffered a hip injury that will force him to miss at least three games while on injured reserve. Rivera also confirmed backup QB Taylor Heinicke will start in Week 2 against the New York Giants.
The Football Team added quarterback Kyle Shurmur to the practice squad earlier Monday as a third option behind Heinicke and Kyle Allen. Rivera seems content with that group, which means he won't pursue Newton despite his extensive history with the veteran QB.
Rivera was Newton's head coach on the Panthers for nine seasons, witnessing Carolina's No. 1 draft pick in 2011 make three Pro Bowls and earn NFL MVP honors in 2015. Newton had a rough passing year with the Patriots in 2020, though -- 177.1 yards per game with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions -- and was released by New England on Aug. 31 after losing the QB competition to rookie Mac Jones.
If Newton's former head coach won't even take him on as a backup to Heinicke, it's hard to see the 32-year-old landing elsewhere. As NBC Sports' Peter King noted Monday, Newton's vaccination status could be a complicating factor as well.
"A backup QB is an insurance policy and should be an aid to the starter," King wrote. "Think it’s smart to bring in an unvaccinated player to fill that role? Truth is, any unvaccinated plyer could vanish for 10 days, no exceptions, if he tests positive at any point during the season."
More importantly, Newton simply hasn't shown enough as a passer to warrant serious interest. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio recently reported that Newton's injury history and "a belief that he's not throwing the ball very well" have contributed to him going unsigned.
Newton insisted in a YouTube interview with his father last Friday that he has plenty of football left, and perhaps a team will see value in the player who rushed for 12 touchdowns in 2020. But it doesn't bode well that the coach who saw Newton at his best has no interest in a reunion.