If Cam Newton is truly open to being a backup and a mentor, an opportunity might present itself with the Washington Football Team.
The WFT placed starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on injured reserve Monday with a hip subluxation. The 38-year-old is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, with Taylor Heinicke taking the reigns of the offense.
Kyle Allen is also on the 53-man roster and his ties to coach Ron Rivera date back to their time together with the Carolina Panthers. He spent 2018-19 as the backup to Newton, who was with Rivera in Carolina from 2011-19, winning the NFL MVP award during the Panthers’ run to the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.
Fitzgerald’s injury has led to the WFT being listed as the +250 favorite by DraftKings to sign Newton, the 32-year-old who was released by New England on Aug. 31.
The next shortest odds belong to the Houston Texans at +500. Houston beat Jacksonville in Week 1 with veteran Tyrod Taylor. His current backup is rookie Davis Mills with Deshaun Watson expected to be inactive on a weekly basis this season if not traded.
The Dallas Cowboys are next at +650 with Cooper Rush and Will Grier the untested backups to Dak Prescott, who is coming off an impressive Week 1 performance following last season’s gruesome ankle injury. The Pittsburgh Steelers are being offered at +800 with Mason Rudolph the primary backup to Ben Roethlisberger.
Newton re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal, but New England opted to go with rookie Mac Jones. Newton said in a YouTube Live video last week that he would have been open to staying on as Jones’ mentor.
“Let me be honest with you. If they would have asked me, ‘Cam, we’re going to give the team to Mac, you’re going to be second-string; we expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,’ I would have said, ‘Absolutely,’” Newton said. “But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would have been uncomfortable.”
Heinicke signed a two-year extension in February after taking over for an ineffective Dwayne Haskins in Week 16 of last season. After having been out of the league for two seasons, Heinicke started the WFT’s wild card playoff loss against Tampa Bay.
The team brought in Fitzpatrick for veteran stability this offseason, but multiple sportsbooks told Field Level Media on Monday that Heinicke taking over the starting job had not yet resulted in notable movement on the WFT’s futures market.
The WFT is being offered at +250 by DraftKings to win the NFC East, behind only Dallas at +135. They are also ninth in the NFC at +2200 to reach the Super Bowl.
Rivera said Monday that Fitzpatrick will have a second opinion this week and that the franchise is not planning to make a significant move at quarterback ahead of Thursday night’s game against the New York Giants. The team did sign quarterback Kyle Shurmur to the practice squad.
Heinicke relieved Fitzpatrick on Sunday and finished 11-of-15 for 122 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort against the Los Angeles Chargers.
“He gave us a spark when we needed it,” Rivera said of Heinicke. “When Taylor stepped in and brought some energy, that was a huge plus. There is something about Taylor; that’s a huge positive. It brings a little something.”
–Field Level Media