By Antwan Staley //@antwanstaley
About the Author: Antwan is a writer for AthlonSports.com. He’s also a video gamer, hip hop historian, and a has a graduate degree in communications from the University of Florida.
2019 is the 25th season that the Carolina Panthers have been in the NFL. The franchise has had their fair share of quarterbacks, but no of them has probably meant more the area as Cam Newton.
That’s likely why some fans are having a difficult time with the fact Newton’s future with the Panthers in serious doubt. There have been multiple reports that Carolina is planning to move on from the 2015 MVP before the start of the new league year, which is in March. Newton is the best quarterback in Panthers’ history, but it is time for both sides to move on.
There’s no guarantee if the Panthers miss playoffs that head coach Ron Rivera and/or general manager Marty Hurney are back for the 2020 season. If Carolina misses the playoffs, it might be in the best interest to completely start over with a new coaching staff and possibly a new quarterback.
Back up QB Kyle Allen has performed well starting for Newton. The last seven games as he has thrown for 1,598 yards, 10 touchdowns, and five interceptions. However, they’re still doubts if Allen can be a franchise quarterback. Newton fans would say then why not bring him back for the final year of his contract?
According to Ian Rapoport, Newton is now considering surgery on his injured foot, with the hopes of returning by March. Although he might be completely healthy, there’s no guarantee Newton can regain his 2018 season form when he threw for 1,893 yards, 15 touchdowns while only throwing four interceptions during the Panthers’ first eight games before suffering a shoulder injury, which would eventually land him on injured reserve. More importantly, Newton completed 67.9% of his passes in 2018, which was the best of his eight-year career.
Remember, Newton had his second shoulder surgery in three years last offseason and now it appears he is set to go under the knife again for his foot issue. Those issues and money could be the primary reasons Newton is playing in another uniform next fall.
If the Panthers trade or release Newton, the team could save $19.1 million in salary-cap space. As much as the team loves Newton, he will be a free agent after the 2020 season anyway, and there’s no indication that the Panthers would sign him to an extension. If the team was interested in doing so, they probably would have mentioned an extension by now.
It is hard to justify paying Newton $19 million when he has been injured the better part of a year and a half. Carolina would be better served to use that money to draft Newton’s potential replacement and re-up running back Christian McCaffrey and outside linebacker Shaq Thompson.
If this is truly the end of the Newton era in Carolina, it was fun to watch. Since he was drafted in 2011, Newton kept the Panthers competitive each season he was under center, including the 2015 season when the Panthers went 15-1 and lost in Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos.
As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end, and the Cam Newton experience may have finally seen its final production. Moving on to another team is probably in the best interest of Newton and it is definitely in the best interest of the Panthers franchise.
Follow Antwan on Twitter @antwanstaley