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Cam and went: Looks like Bears missed on another quarterback

The team opted for Mitch Trubisky/Nick Foles over the affordable, proven Newton, and it begs the question: Why?

Cam Newton led his Panthers team to three division titles and four playoff appearances from 2013 to 2017 and was the consensus MVP in the NFL in 2015.
Cam Newton led his Panthers team to three division titles and four playoff appearances from 2013 to 2017 and was the consensus MVP in the NFL in 2015.
Abbie Parr/Getty Images

We’ll likely be talking about the Bears’ quarterback “situation” forever.

Or we will until Nick Foles gets on the field and proves he’s either as erratic as Mitch Trubisky or as skilled as he was when he once won a Super Bowl.

It’s probable that Foles is somewhere in between — full of ups and downs, like the teeter-totter Trubisky is strapped to — and that the Bears’ 70-year search for the next Sid Luckman will continue unscathed.

But let’s throw out a bone to chew on here.

You know who was available during the offseason search for a Trubisky replacement or backup?

No, not talking about ancient Tom Brady — though he was on the Bears’ radar before he signed with the Buccaneers in March.

The answer is Cam Newton.

The former Panthers quarterback was coming off injuries and was not going back to Carolina, where he’d played for nine years. Pretty much any team in the NFL could have signed him. That means the Bears could have him right now.

Why bother, you say. Well, did you see Newton on Sunday night against the Seahawks in Seattle?

Yes, his new team — Brady’s old Patriots, interestingly — lost 35-30. But not before Newton engineered a couple of late drives that combined great passing and running and ended only when he was stopped a yard short of the goal line on a keeper on the final play of the game.

Is Newton better than Trubisky? Better question: Is there any quarterback out there who isn’t, at times in every game, better than Trubisky? Four seasons have shown us the same thing over and over about him.

Here’s an example. In the previous two seasons — 2018 and 2019 — every NFL quarterback who started at least eight games had, at some time or other, a passer rating in the 90s. Except Trubisky.

He was either better than that rating (up in the 100s) or worse (down in the 80s, 70s or below). The average rating for all starting quarterbacks in that period was 93.4. Trubisky’s average was 88.7.

Never steady, he is as undependable as good/bad Rex Grossman was back when the Bears made their last Super Bowl appearance after the 2006 season. It’s what makes Bears fans uneasy — schizoid, even — despite a 2-0 record this year.

There are no more improvements to come with Trubisky. To slightly amend the favorite jock cliché/truism of the era, he is what he is.

Newton? The veteran was pretty much counted out because of a slew of injuries and, to be honest, a perceived attitude that didn’t sit well in conservative quarters. He has had ankle, back and shoulder problems and, most recently, a Lisfranc injury to his left foot that kept him out for almost all of the 2019 season. Because of coronavirus concerns and the basic societal shutdown this past spring, a lot of Newton’s return to health flew under the radar. Understandable.

But this man, who is only 31, led his Panthers team to three division titles and four playoff appearances from 2013 to 2017 and was the consensus MVP in the NFL in 2015. He didn’t abruptly fold up and blow away.

That he is Black can’t be ruled out as at least a subliminal factor in the disregard Newton finds himself in. How much disregard? Consider that Newton’s base salary makes him the 50th highest-paid quarterback in the league. Overall, he is the 750th-highest-paid NFL player. Chew on that. Seven-hundred-forty-nine players make more in base pay than he does.

Yes, he has salary incentives, but you get the point. Newton was there for the taking.

Again, it’s interesting that the two now-superstar QBs the Bears could have taken in the 2017 draft — Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson — are Black. Trubisky, of course, is white. As is Foles.

None of this is to say the Bears are a racist organization — not at all. It only suggests we all have our blind spots, our comfort zones, our normal ways of doing things, of conducting business. And sometimes those things we aren’t consciously aware of play out in real time and affect the product we offer to the paying public.

Newton scored a touchdown Sunday and posed in front of the TV camera and mock-ripped open his jersey to reveal, we’ll assume, a Superman “S.”

He wears outlandish clothes that could make a canary blush. He’s outspoken. He’s cocky. His posed photo on the Pro Football Reference site shows him with his dreads flung straight up in the air.

Low profile he’s not. But he’s still good.

Are the Bears’ quarterbacks?