By Jordy McElroy
Saying is saying and doing is doing. The Carolina Panthers obviously weren’t as prepared as they thought to go through with the latter.
Quarterback Cam Newton is reportedly staying put after months of speculation of a possible offseason trade. So many parallels can be drawn to the stereotypical romantic trope, when the guy goes sprinting through an airport to stop someone from getting onto a plane.
The Panthers looked over the white picket fence to see the grass wasn’t any greener, prompting them to hold on to their No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft. They aren’t the first team to get cold feet when considering making a change at the most important position on the field.
You’d have to be naïve to think they’ll be the last.
Superman Newton’s Fortress of Solitude was breaking into pieces and falling down all around him.
His health continued to fail in a season where he played in only two games and finished with a 0-2 record. Second-year quarterback Ryan Allen started 12 games and threw for 3,322 yards. The Panthers also went out and spent a third-round pick to select quarterback Will Grier out of West Virginia at the 2019 NFL Draft.
Throw in the fact that head coach Ron Rivera was shown the door and the Panthers looked like a sure bet for a serious makeover.
There is often a misconception that good quarterbacks grow on trees at the NFL level, but they are a rare commodity that never sees the light of day once a franchise sinks their teeth into them. A mere consideration of the alternatives had the Panthers spinning their wheels with no other legitimate options in sight.
Allen threw for 3,000 yards in his second season, but he also threw nearly as many interceptions as touchdown passes and finished the season with a 37.8 QBR. Are the Panthers really willing to let a former NFL MVP and three-time Pro Bowler walk in hopes of those numbers improving?
Grier started two games as a rookie and threw zero touchdown passes and four interceptions. He could obviously improve later on down the line, but he’s also clearly not ready for the bright lights of the NFL, especially with a team with so many holes to fill on offense.
The 2020 NFL Draft presents plenty of intriguing possibilities that all come with the roll of the dice. Even drafting No. 1 prospect Joe Burrow amounts to nothing more than throwing a dart at a board. It wouldn’t be the first time we’ve seen a quarterback bust with the No. 1 overall draft pick. There are no certainties when dipping into the infinite pool of young talent.
Other teams around the league could find themselves pondering the same things ahead of free agency. A perfect example would be the Dallas Cowboys with quarterback Dak Prescott. Unless they can land New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for a possible win-now scenario, it would behoove them to either sign Prescott long-term or use the franchise tag to secure their chances of competing for a Super Bowl next season.
What other options do they legitimately have right now?
The same goes for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Jameis Winston. Even as a turnover machine, the glimpses of elite talent Winston has shown is more than enough to keep the Buccaneers’ affections on their own side of the picket fence.
There is an unusual amount of moving parts at quarterback in the NFL this season, but every situation isn’t going to end in a split like the Los Angeles Chargers and Philip Rivers. The ballooning excitement could crescendo by early March, only to go out with a whimper when talk turns to action.