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Cam Newton claims he’s better than any QB in the NFC South. Is he right?

Bold claim, Cam.

It’s pretty remarkable that Cam Newton doesn’t have a job on any NFL roster right now. QB situations around the league are dire, guys are starting in this league who deserve to be sitting on a bench, at best, and a former MVP is without a job.

This was essentially Newton’s argument earlier this week on the “I Am Athlete” tour when he made the bold claim that he’s better than anyone starting in the woeful NFC South right now.

Brandon Marshall: “So, 18 months ago 24 months ago we had this conversation and you said there ain’t 32 [better QBs in the NFL]. So what’s the number right now?”
[...]
Cam Newton: “I mean, s*** we can say the whole NFC South God****. S*** lemme stop.”

That’s a big-ass claim, but the NFC South really, really sucks right now — particularly at quarterback. So let’s break this down and really see if Newton is better than the rest of the division as it stands.

Atlanta Falcons

Okay, so the team has finally pivoted to Desmond Ridder and the rookie is a wild card. We know Cam wasn’t talking about Ridder here, he was specifically referencing Marcus Mariota. Mariota played totally unremarkable football this year which wasn’t terrible, nor very good.

If he’s taken his last snaps as started Mariota will finish the year with 2,219 passing yards, 15 TD and 9 INT for a passer rating of 88.5. Perfectly serviceable.

It’s not really fair to evaluate Newton based on his woeful eight game stretch with the Panthers in 2021 when he was thrown in cold out of desperation and largely struggled. In New England he was a similarly unremarkable QB to Mariota, but with worse receivers. If you factor in Newton’s running ability I’m inclined to say...

Newton is better, by a hair

Carolina Panthers

Hoo buddy. Okay, so Sam Darnold is back starting again, taking over for P.J. Walker, who took over for Baker Mayfield. The QB position for the Panthers has been a nightmare all season, and I have to imagine that if Newton had a full training camp to learn the system and not get dropped in as a mid-season replacement he’d at least be better than the trash the Panthers have tried at the position.

Newton is better, by a lot

New Orleans Saints

This conversation probably doesn’t happen in Jameis Winston was healthy. Winston is another unremarkable QB, but I believe he’s better than Newton is now. Andy Dalton is another story entirely.

I don’t really care what the stats show. Dalton isn’t nearly as good or dynamic, and Chris Olave, Alvin Kamara and Jarvis Landy make any QBs life easy. I have no doubt in my mind that Newton would have been a bigger spark for the offense than Dalton, in exchange for some reliability. Both players are seeing the same sort of mid-30s decline, so it’s not like there’s a magical upgrade or durability factor here.

Tossup

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

No, we’re not having this conversation. I’m all about having self-confidence but that ends when you start to say you’re better than Tom Brady. Even old, struggling Tom Brady. Brady is still better than over half the quarterbacks in the NFL.

Brady is better

Final judgement

I get why Cam Newton isn’t on an NFL roster right now. Teams are in transition phases and looking to get younger, and in the case of the NFC South only the Buccaneers still have their planned starters from the beginning of the season.

Newton didn’t adapt well to be thrown into the middle of the season, and he’s a big, team-dominating personality that really isn’t suited to the rebuilding teams in the NFC South with young players trying to assert themselves in leadership positions. Still, I can’t believe a veteran team in need of QB help hasn’t brought him in. When you look around the leader there are some legitimate playoff-hopeful teams with a dumpster fire at QB, and I think he’s certainly better than some of the players currently starting.

As for the NFC South, it’s a mixed bag. I certainly think Cam is showing a little bit of hubris in claiming he’s better than everyone starting right now.