Ron Rivera’s run with the Carolina Panthers spanned all of Cam Newton’s 131 career starts.
And while the head coach had found his next landing spot by January, the quarterback didn’t find his until the final Sunday in June, agreeing to terms on a one-year contract with the New England Patriots.
But Rivera likes where the long wait has led Newton.
“I was excited,” Rivera said Friday on the Dan Patrick Show. “I really was, because I thought all along that there were a couple teams that would have been really good for him, and I always felt the Patriots were one of them. When Tom Brady went to Tampa Bay, I thought, ‘You know what? That might not be a bad spot for him,’ because of the style of offense, because of the things they ask the quarterback to do.”
Carolina had released Newton a week into free agency after a season that gave way to two appearances and injured reserve because of a Lisfranc fracture. The season prior, the former No. 1 overall pick and NFL MVP had been shut down by continued complications with his throwing shoulder and surgery.
Now at age 31, Newton resides on a New England QB depth chart that includes Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer, J’Mar Smith and Brian Lewerke.
“The one thing I’ve always said is don’t bet against Cam, especially when he has something to prove,” said Rivera. “Coming off the 2014 season – even though we got into the playoffs in 2014 – he didn’t play his best. In 2015, he played unbelievable. In 2016, he had an off year. He was hurt. Came back in 2017 and had just a great year that got us into the playoffs. And then ‘18 and ‘19, he was hurt. So, I think he has something to prove. I think he’s going to prove something.”
Newton’s Patriots contract carries $550,000 guaranteed and a base salary of $1.05 million that is the minimum for his accrued service time. A maximum value of $7.5 million is ahead for the Auburn product when factoring in per-game roster bonuses and a lofty $5.75 million in incentives.
Rivera, who nears his first campaign as head coach of the Washington Football Team, will be monitoring.
“Coach [Bill] Belichick and what they want to do offensively – I think that’s going to suit him,” added Rivera. “And plus, I think Josh McDaniels is creative enough to use Cam’s skillset to the best of his abilities. I’ll watch them. I’ll be excited about watching them.”