The Panthers’ efforts to trade Cam Newton evidently did not take off. They are expected to release the former MVP as soon as Tuesday, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Carolina made the move official Tuesday afternoon.
While the Panthers attempted to deal Newton to the Bears and Chargers, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, they could not find a taker. Newton had one season remaining on a deal he signed back in 2015. He was set to earn $18.6MM in 2020 base salary; Carolina will take on just $2MM in dead money for releasing Newton but clear $19.1MM in cap space. The Bears subsequently traded for Nick Foles instead, and the Chargers appear focused on the draft. After pursuing Tom Brady, the Bolts no longer intend to add a veteran quarterback.
A Newton release was the expected outcome, given the unique complications this offseason presents for the Panthers to trade their three-time Pro Bowl passer. This will end a nine-year run for Newton in Charlotte. The move also comes less than a month after Matt Rhule indicated he wanted to keep Newton for the 2020 season. Carolina moved swiftly in another direction after that pronouncement.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2011, Newton fairly quickly solidified himself as the best quarterback in Panthers history. He helped the Panthers to four playoff berths in a five-season span and piloted them to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. However, injuries intervened in the late 2010s and will lead the former superstar to the open market for the first time.
Newton, 30, is recovering from the Lisfanc surgery he underwent in December. The NFL’s all-time QB rushing-touchdown king has not been fully healthy since early in the 2018 season, when he suffered a shoulder injury. Newton is not expected to be game-ready for months.
Considering the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has made to this NFL offseason, Newton could be in limbo. Teams are not permitted to host free agents on visits, and while third-party doctors can still examine players, any franchise signing off on a Newton contract would probably want to put its medical staff to work on the injury-prone passer.
Because of this strange scenario, the Panthers were able to pry a fifth-rounder from the Redskins for Kyle Allen on Monday and will be forced to release Newton. Carolina’s quarterback depth chart now sits at Teddy Bridgewater–P.J. Walker–Will Grier. The Panthers officially signed Walker on Tuesday morning. Bridgewater signed his three-year, $63MM deal Monday night, and David Newton of ESPN.com notes the Panthers will not carry both Bridgewater and Newton’s salaries. The Newton-to-Bridgewater transition will begin Tuesday.
Newton had regressed considerably since the Panthers’ Super Bowl 50 loss, ranking 30th in QBR since 2016, but the nine-year veteran showed promise in Norv Turner‘s offense early in 2018 certainly would have brought back a trade package of some sort in a normal NFL offseason. The former Heisman winner now must continue his rehab on his own and do so in one of the most uncertain times to go about a rehab effort. The NFL may well end up canceling all offseason activities due to conoravirus-related uncertainty, so it might be difficult for Newton to land a noteworthy contract for the 2020 season.
Carolina will have parted ways with Newton, Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly, Trai Turner and Mario Addison this offseason. Rhule’s team will certainly look different when the Panthers are permitted to reconvene under their new coach.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.