Greg Van Roten spent the past three seasons along the Carolina Panthers’ offensive line before landing in the AFC East this spring.
By the final Sunday night in June, the quarterback he used to block for had followed.
“It’s definitely terrifying to think about if Cam Newton’s healthy and he’s in Belichick’s offense, you know, in my division, it could be a long year for the other teams because he’s a game-changer,” Van Roten told co-hosts Alex Marvez and Bill Polian. “He came into the league, he’s a league MVP, brought a team to the Super Bowl – he’s just built differently than a lot of quarterbacks and he’s a headache to gameplan for.”
After stops with the Green Bay Packers, Seattle Seahawks, Toronto Argonauts and Jacksonville Jaguars, Van Roten appeared in 37 games and made 27 starts while a Panthers teammate of Newton’s.
The latter passed for 7,269 yards with 44 touchdowns and 30 interceptions over that span, rushing for an additional 1,240 yards and 10 scores.
“When he’s healthy, you can stop the run from him, but then you’ve got to defend the pass,” said Van Roten. “And if you can stop the pass, well then you’ve got to account for the run. It’s basically pick one thing and he’ll do the other. And then you couple him with Belichick, who only cares about winning, and Cam really wants to prove himself. It’s definitely a recipe for disaster for the rest of the league if they can figure it out.”
A shoulder injury led to surgery after Newton was deactivated for the final two games of Carolina’s 2018 campaign. The former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick out of Auburn would then be placed on injured reserve last fall due to a Lisfranc fracture.
The Panthers released Newton a week into free agency in March.
Former @Panthers teammate and current @nyjets guard @GVR64 knows that Cam Newton in New England could spell trouble for the rest of the AFC East...#Patriots | @Patriots | @CameronNewton pic.twitter.com/mjv74lCoMY— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) July 10, 2020
“I was surprised, but I also saw it coming, if that makes sense,” Van Roten said of Newton’s Panthers departure. “It was one of those situations where you have this talent, you have this franchise quarterback and you’re going to release him? Like, to me, that seems like an interesting business decision, because you can replace a coaching staff, you can get a new scouting department, you can get a new business side of football.
“When it comes to a franchise quarterback – and there’s plenty of teams across the league that will attest to this – you better be right because you’re mortgaging the next couple years on that decision. You know, I know Cam had some injury issues in the past, but the guy is a competitor.”
Van Roten and the Jets are currently scheduled to host the Patriots for an 8:15 p.m. ET kickoff at MetLife Stadium on Nov. 9.