Why didn’t the Bears trade for Cam Newton?

Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Cam Newton, Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

Chicago Bears fans are furious because their team traded for Nick Foles instead of Cam Newton. Why did general manager Ryan Pace do such a horrible thing?

The Chicago Bears are certainly making noise during 2020 NFL free agency.

Bears general manager Ryan Pace has made many decisions these last few days during the legal tampering period. No, not all them have been what we would consider great decisions, but he’s sure as hell making them. One decision that has set Chicagoland ablaze with the fire from 1,000 suns is trading for journeyman quarterback Nick Foles.

Was Cam Newton not available or something?

Newton is available, as the Carolina Panthers opted to sign former New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in free agency. The Panthers organization already sent out its “thanks for the memories, okay, bye” messages on social media regarding Newton. This is a former NFL MVP and Heisman Trophy winner here, not some signal-caller scrub.

Newton is in the last year of his deal with the Panthers at only a $21.1 million cap hit. He’s entering his age-32 season in 2021. Though he only played in two games for the 2019 Panthers, it’s not like Foles was any better during his four starts with the Jacksonville Jaguars. While they combined to 0-6 in those six starts, Newton has considerably more upside than Foles.

Chicago may have only had to give up a sixth or seventh-round pick for Newton, instead of the fourth-round compensatory pick the Bears had to send the Jaguars’ way for Foles. Keep in mind Jacksonville gave Foles a four-year deal last offseason, meaning he’s now under contract through 2022, with a potential out in 2021 with a dead cap hit of $12.5 million. He’s still very expensive.

What this really comes down to is Chicago is betting on Foles’ familiarity with Matt Nagy’s offensive system from their brief time together with the Kansas City Chiefs. Foles ran a similar offense under Andy Reid disciple Doug Pederson with the Philadelphia Eagles and briefly with John DeFilippo down in Jacksonville. DeFilippo is the Bears’ new quarterbacks coach, so that helps.

Newton has only played in Mike Shula’s offense and Norv Turner/Scott Turner‘s offense in Charlotte. When healthy, his talent will help whichever team he lands on win a bunch of games. However, a lack of familiarity of the Bears’ offensive system and potential concerns over how he’s recovering from this Lisfranc injury may have very well tipped the scales in Foles’ favor here.

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Had the Bears gone with Newton, there would have been higher variance. The 2020 Bears could have been the ’15 Panthers or the ’19 Panthers. By trading for Foles, Nagy is giving himself the best shot at recreating what he did in his first year in Chicago in 2018, or at least that’s what the Bears organization is praying will happen here.

Foles is safe, but Newton was a game-changer.