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Each season the Associated Press gives out the AP NFL Comeback Player of the year award to a player who was all but counted out the season before. Though there are no exact criteria, it’s often a player coming back from injury such as Andrew Luck in 2018.
This year’s favorite, Ben Roethlisberger (+250), will look to recover from an arm injury that cost him nearly the entire 2019 season. For a future of this caliber, however, with so much uncertainty, I always try to look for longer odds players, who, presented with the right scenario, offer a ton of value.
As we close in (hopefully) on training camps in a few months, and as the dust starts to settle from the 2020 NFL Draft and free agency, let’s take a look at one player who I think offers a ton of value to win this year’s award.
Since coming into the league as the first overall pick in 2011, perhaps no player has flown under the radar more than Cam Newton. After winning the league MVP in 2015 while leading the Panthers to their second-ever Super Bowl, the former Heisman Trophy winner has seen a steady drop in production.
At the same time, Newton has also seen a steady drop in playing time due to injury, as well as a depletion of the line around him and a coach constantly on the hot seat. Having played in just 16 games since 2016, Newton has been all but retired amongst much of the league’s media and pundits.
Currently sitting at -190 odds to be the next starting quarterback of the New England Patriots, this would be the absolute best-case scenario for Newton to get back on track. He would enter a system known for efficiency and an environment where all he can do is focus on football. It would also put him into an environment that he’s desperately searching for: an organization he can trust.
Even if he doesn’t end up in New England, Newton has too much raw talent and experience to not find a starting job in the league by the time camp ultimately rolls around. Not since his early seasons in Carolina has he come in with the kind of focus I expect him to this fall, looking to prove the world wrong that has largely counted him down for the count.
The Broncos at +1000 would be another good situation where Newton could end up as the Week 1 starter. He would be able to put up big numbers with their revamped receiving corps if he remained healthy. While that’s certainly a big if given his history, at nearly 8-to-1 odds, I see Newton as presenting the most value to win the 2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.