Kurt Warner relates to Cam Newton after 2015 MVP signs with Patriots
A former NFL MVP, after battling injuries, was released by his longtime team and signed with a new one at a low price.
Does this Cam Newton storyline sound familiar?
Former Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner went through his own fall from grace with the St. Louis Rams. After two MVP awards and two Super Bowl appearances in three years, he only appeared in nine total games over the next two seasons.
He was released by the Rams in 2004 and signed a deal with the New York Giants for $3 million, though it included a second-year option that would have given him a total of $9.5 million, according to ESPN.
Newton hit superstardom in 2015 when he led the Panthers to a 15-1 regular season record and Super Bowl appearance, a year in which he won 48 of 50 MVP votes.
But Newton underwent a shoulder surgery in January 2019 and a foot surgery in December for an injury that limited him to two games last season. The Panthers signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater this offseason and released Newton in March.
Newton then watched every other team fill out its quarterback room until he signed with the New England Patriots.
Warner said Monday on Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta that the perception of a player being injury-prone and past his prime spreads rapidly.
“You understand, really in life, that perception is reality,” Warner said. “I remember when I went through it in St. Louis and, you know, two MVPs, two Super Bowls in three years. And then two years later, it looks like I can’t play anymore. There’s a narrative out there that I’ve been injured, and I’m not the same guy…
“You get released by a team, and you’re looking around going, ‘Oh my gosh. How is it that I was there just a couple years ago, and now everybody sees me in a completely different light?’ I had to go on kind of a quest to rebuild the perception of who i was and who i could be in the NFL.”
Newton will now compete for a starting job against second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham and veteran Brian Hoyer.
Warner was burdened with a similar fight for playing time during his comeback.
When he signed with the New York Giants, Eli Manning was a rookie waiting for action. Warner started nine games, but after two straight losses dropped the Giants’ record to 5-4, Manning took over.
After signing with Arizona in 2005, Warner started three games before getting injured. He returned and played games eight through 14 of that Cardinals season, but he partially tore his MCL in Week 15.
The next year, Warner started the first four weeks but was replaced by rookie Matt Leinart. It took until 2007 for him to wholly have the starter job.
“Fair or unfair, it’s the nature of the beast, especially when you’ve have some injuries,” Warner said.
“But I think (Newton) fell into a great situation … (there’s) not a lot of opportunities out there because our league’s in a pretty good spot with a lot of young quarterbacks, but to be able to go to a team that’s got a great defense, innovative offensive coaching staff, some different kind of playmakers there, I’m excited to see what he can do in New England.”
Warner said that if New England changes its system to fit Newton, he could find success.
The Giants’ style of play was not conducive to Warner’s strengths. That offense, he told Bickley & Marotta, was predicated on the run game and Warner’s main duties came on third down. He said it went “so against” the style he played, his aggressive downfield attack.
“Are they going to try to make Cam Newton be Tom Brady and play within that system?” Warner asked. “(Or) are they going to be able to transform their offense around Cam Newton and around what he does well?”
Warner thinks success won’t be immediate. In his experience, it typically takes a year to learn a new system. But if Newton can get it down, the AFC East won’t have time to find a new ruler the way it was anticipated when Brady moved to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“I think it reshapes what we were all thinking about the AFC East,” Warner said. “Everybody over there from the AFC side’s going ‘OK, here’s our shot, they don’t have a quarterback and we’re going to be able to maybe make some hay the next few years.’ And then enter former MVP that, if he gets back to being healthy and can be a similar-type Cam Newton that we’ve seen before, that makes that team really scary.”