Cam Newton

South Notes: Panthers, Newton, Titans, Davis, Henry, Buccaneers, Winston

Just three years ago, Cam Newton was the league’s MVP who led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl appearance. The past two years haven’t gone nearly as well for him, and now Newton is on the “hot seat” according to David Newton of ESPN.com. He notes that 2018 will be a big year for Newton as he starts anew with a new offensive coordinator and scheme.

“If he doesn’t show improvement after consecutive down years, there will be a lot of questions about his future” he writes. Newton is the face of the franchise, but the team could theoretically get out of his contract relatively easily after this season. It would be shocking if it happens, but according to this report, it’s not totally inconceivable that the end of the Cam Newton-era in Carolina could be near if he doesn’t turn things around this season.

Here’s more from the league’s southern divisions:

  • Corey Davis “was one of the stars” of the Titans’ early offseason workouts, according to Jim Wyatt of Titansonline.com. The fifth overall pick in 2017, Davis was somewhat limited by injuries last season, but still flashed a ton of potential. Wyatt notes that Davis “looked smooth during the offseason, snatching the ball out of the air with ease in traffic”, and that the team is “counting on Davis to make a big leap in Year 2.”
  • Jameis Winston‘s suspension may have caught a lot of people by surprise, but it didn’t shock the Buccaneers, according to Rick Stroud of The Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Stroud writes that the Bucs had been bracing for the suspension for quite some time, and re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick back in March knowing they might need him to start some games.
  • “The plan” is for Derrick Henry to be the Titans‘ lead back in 2018, according to Wyatt. The Titans signed Dion Lewis to a four-year, $20MM deal this offseason, but apparently view him as more of a complimentary piece.

QB Notes: Bortles, Bills, Broncos, Newton

The Jaguars have been mentioned as a quality destination for one of the higher-end quarterbacks expected to be available in free agency or via trade during what should be an intriguing offseason for teams in search of passers. But they might not be done with their current quarterback just yet.

Blake Bortles failed to clear 100 yards passing in an interesting wild-card win, and Ian Rapoport of NFL.com hears (video link) the Jags are not opposed to retaining their 2014 first-rounder on the $19MM fifth-year option salary. Bortles has been wildly inconsistent this season, and Sunday’s 87-yard showing marked a season-low. Although, his 88 rushing yards were vital in the 10-3 victory. Doug Marrone also said he’s concerned about his offense heading into the team’s divisional-round game in Pittsburgh. While it should be expected the Jags will explore an upgrade prior to making a final call on Bortles, it might not be a certainty the franchise moves on from him.

Here’s more from some various quarterback situations around the league.

  • While Tyrod Taylor did not fare well against the vaunted Jags pass defense, the Bills are not against bringing him back. Rapoport reports the Bills are not expected to cut Taylor this offseason. Instead, they would rather give him a chance to compete to be the starter for a fourth season or trade him to another team in need of a quarterback. Taylor is due a $6MM roster bonus if he’s on the Bills come Day 3 of the 2018 league year and stands to earn $10MM in base salary. On a trade market that could include Eli Manning and Alex Smith, Taylor would be an interesting name — if not a consolation prize for a team that cannot land its desired upgrade. The Bills brought Taylor back in March when many expected him to be jettisoned, and Nathan Peterman does not look to be close to ready for a competition with the incumbent.
  • The Broncos will cast a wide net in attempting their unique quarterback search. Despite investing a first-round pick in Paxton Lynch in 2016, the Broncos will be exploring the notion of signing or trading for a veteran while looking for high-end help in the draft, Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post writes. Jhabvala mentions Smith as a possible candidate. Although the Chiefs trading him to a top rival may be hard to fathom, the soon-to-be 34-year-old signal-caller’s timeline (one year left on his contract) and pedigree as player who limits turnovers would seemingly complement Denver’s foundation that features a veteran defense and two 30-year-old wide receivers. For what it’s worth, Aqib Talib (via Jhabvala) predicts John Elway will chase a veteran rather than try his luck with another rookie.
  • Elway said the Broncos are not especially interested in dangling a defensive starter in potential trade talks for a passer, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets (video link). The Broncos have several established defensive starters, but with that being the team’s best facet, a trade would seem to eat into Denver’s strength should defenders be on the table in prospective talks.
  • Cam Newton left the Panthers-Saints game in the fourth quarter and staggered to the ground before reaching the sideline. He was evaluated in the team’s medical tent and did not go to the locker room. Under the post-Tom Savage-injury concussion protocol, the Panthers passer — since he indeed took a knee on the field after being hit by David Onyemata — would have needed to be examined in the locker room, per Dan Graziano and Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com (Twitter links). The Panthers said Newton was being looked at because of an eye injury, and David Newton of the Charlotte Observer said Carolina’s centerpiece was cleared of a concussion (Twitter link).

Panthers Notes: Newton, Gano, Cotchery

Christian McCaffrey will be catching passes from Cam Newton this weekend and next, the Panthers rookie running back told the NFL Network’s Alex Flanagan (via NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman). It will mark a key step in Newton’s recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. The seventh-year quarterback threw his first passes of the offseason late last month and looks to be attempting to ramp up his activity in the days leading up to the Panthers’ training camp, which begins July 26. Newton underwent surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff in late March. Since, the Panthers added McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel in the first two rounds of the draft and picked up Charles Johnson and Russell Shepard in free agency.

Here’s the latest coming out of Charlotte as the NFC’s 2015 Super Bowl representative attempts to mount a resurgence after a rough follow-up season.

  • Graham Gano underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his plant foot, according to Jourdan Rodrique of the Charlotte Observer. The 30-year-old kicker missed eight field goals last season, his most since missing 10 with the 2011 Redskins, and the Panthers drafted Harrison Butker in the seventh round to compete. Out of Georgia Tech, Butker is the first kicker the Panthers have drafted in their 23-year history. Ron Rivera said he planned to bring in competition for Gano this offseason, and while he did, Rodrique expects Gano to be the Panthers’ kicker for a sixth season.
  • Although Michael Oher plans to attend camp, the Panthers have not provided much to suggest he is in the team’s plans, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer notes. Person also predicts the Panthers will sign Mike Adams after making the decision to cut Oher. A former Steelers starter, Adams last played with the Bears in 2016. Since the Bears placed Adams on IR in December, nothing’s emerged involving the 27-year-old tackle.
  • Person expects Matt Kalil to take a step back toward his Pro Bowl rookie season of 2012. While the writer doesn’t believe Kalil will get back to Hawaii, he believes the five-year, $55MM deal won’t become a sunk cost. Kalil’s recovered from 2016 hip surgery, per Person, and obviously has his brother as a key sounding board now that he’s landed in Charlotte.
  • Jerricho Cotchery is now working as an assistant wide receivers coach with the Panthers, with whom he played from 2014-15. The Panthers hired him this offseason, C. Jackson Cowart reports for the Charlotte Observer, and this season stands to be the 35-year-old’s first year of coaching. Cotchery played 12 NFL seasons — with the Jets, Steelers and Panthers — and carved out roles on seven playoff teams.
  • One of Cotchery’s charges this offseason, UDFA wideout Austin Duke faces an uphill battle to make the Panthers’ roster. However, he did draw interest from the Falcons as a post-draft free agent, but he opted to sign with the Panthers on just a $1,000 signing bonus, per Cowart. The 5-foot-9 wideout caught 59 passes for 803 yards and four touchdowns with UNC-Charlotte last season.
  • Agent Drew Rosenhaus did not rule out a holdout when discussing options for client Greg Olsen.

NFC Notes: Maclin, Revis, Newton

We learned earlier today that the Eagles, not the Bills, were the runners-up for Jeremy Maclin‘s services, which came as something of a surprise given last week’s report that Philadelphia did not have interest in reuniting with Maclin. Per Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter links), Eagles head coach Doug Pederson claims he was not being coy when he said the team was not considering Maclin, but that the Eagles did not reach out to Maclin until the weekend, when they contacted him to gauge interest. However, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets the Eagles never really got into a bidding war with the Ravens, who ultimately signed Maclin and who apparently gave him “solid money” to come to Baltimore.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Cowboys WR Dez Bryant tweeted free agent corner Darrelle Revis yesterday and told him to consider signing with the Cowboys, leading some to speculate that the club could be interested in relocating Revis Island to Texas, despite earlier reports to the contrary. Nonetheless, Clarence Hill, Jr. of the Star-Telegram, citing a team source, tweets that there is “nothing going on with Revis.”
  • We heard earlier today that Eddie Lacy passed his weigh-in with the Seahawks, which netted him a $55K bonus, but he was not the league’s biggest loser this week. As Todd Archer of ESPN.com writes, Cowboys offensive lineman Byron Bell picked up $150K by weighing in at less than 320 pounds on Monday, and he can earn another $300K if he meets his weight requirements at the start of training camp and the first week of the regular season. And, per ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), if Falcons NT Dontari Poe weighs 340 pounds or less tomorrow, he earns $125K.
  • Panthers QB Cam Newton will not throw at this week’s minicamp, but the quarterback is still on schedule with his recovery and is expected to be ready for training camp, as Edward Lewis of NFL.com writes.
  • The Saints may be shopping Travaris Cadet, but Josh Katzenstein of the Times-Picayune does not believe they can realistically expect to get any takers, so the team will probably be forced to release him.
  • We learned earlier tonight that Rams DT Aaron Donald could miss this week’s mandatory minicamp as he continues to push for a long-term deal.

NFC Notes: Romo, Cowboys, Panthers

The Cowboys should bring an end to the Tony Romo saga by April 17, the first day of their offseason workout program, opines Joel Corry of CBS Sports. If Romo is still on their roster then, it would behoove him to report because of a clause in his contract stating his base salary will decrease by $500K if he doesn’t complete at least 90 percent of offseason workouts. But the Cowboys shouldn’t want Romo to report, observes Corry, who points out that both his $14MM salary and $24.7MM for 2017 would become guaranteed if he were to suffer a serious injury in OTAs. While the Cowboys would like to trade Romo, it’s doubtful Romo would renegotiate his contract to facilitate a deal, according to Corry, noting that his three-year, $54MM pact isn’t unreasonable money for a starting QB.

More from the NFC:

  • Panthers quarterback Cam Newton underwent successful surgery Thursday to repair a partially torn right rotator cuff, according to David Newton of ESPN.com. Newton, who suffered the injury in Week 14 last season, will take 12 weeks off from throwing. Team officials expect he’ll be ready for training camp.
  • Tight end John Phillips‘ one-year contract with the Saints is a minimum salary benefit deal worth $980K, including an $80K signing bonus, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (Twitter link).
  • Seahawks linebacker Terence Garvin‘s single-year accord is worth $855K, tweets Wilson. The agreement comes with a $60K signing bonus and a $20K first-game roster bonus.
  • In case you missed it, here’s the latest from Minnesota and Washington (links: 1, 2).

Extra Points: Newton, Alonso, Rams

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is set to undergo surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff on his throwing shoulder, reports ESPN.com’s David Newton. The former MVP is expected to miss offseason workouts, but he should be recovered for the start of training camp. Newton originally suffered the injury during his Week 14 matchup against the Chargers.

“We developed a plan for Cam to take a period of rest, a period of rehabilitation and treatment, and then start a gradual throwing program the first part of March,” said head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion. “Cam started his program, and the early parts of his rehab had been going well. However, as we worked to advance him into the next stage — the strengthening stage, the throwing stage — he started to have an increase in his pain level and started having pain while throwing.”

Newton isn’t the only Panthers player to be going under the knife. Defensive end Charles Johnson had back surgery earlier today, while wideout Damiere Byrd will have knee surgery later this week.

Let’s check out some other notes from around the NFL…

  • The Dolphins signed linebacker Kiko Alonso to an extension earlier today, only a few weeks after the team inked free agent linebacker Lawrence Timmons. Alonso told Adam Beasley of the Miami Herald (Twitter link) that he’s excited to play with the former Steelers defender, noting that he’d be willing to play either inside or outside linebacker.
  • New Rams cornerback Kayvon Webster believes he’ll “definitely” have a chance to start opposite Trumaine Johnson (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Alden Gonzalez). Right now, Gonzalez believes he’ll have a leg-up over E.J. Gaines thanks to his familiarity with Wade Phillips‘ system. Webster said he would also like to contribute on special teams, depending on how much work he gets on defense.
  • Embattled running back prospect Joe Mixon is set to meet with the Chargers, tweets ESPN.com’s Jim Trotter. The Oklahoma product would undoubtedly be an intriguing fit for Los Angeles, although the team is currently rostering four running backs in Melvin Gordon, Kenneth Farrow, Andre Williams, and Kenjon Barner.

NFC Notes: Cowboys, Rhodes, Rams, Panthers

Jerry Jones did not say whether the Cowboys will turn back to Tony Romo or stick with the surging Dak Prescott after the team’s Week 7 bye, but the owner identified this as a good problem to have.

There’s nothing I’d rather do than go into [the] last half of the season with a ready-to-go Tony Romo and a winning Dak Prescott,” Jones said, via Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter links). “I dream of being able to make that decision. We are not there yet by the way. We are not there.”

Reports have oscillated between the Cowboys having confidence the 36-year-old Romo will resume his post and how Prescott’s rise has inspired his teammates enough to possibly anoint the rookie as the full-time starter. Prescott connected on 18 of his 27 throws in Dallas’ win over Green Bay today, throwing for three touchdown passes. He’s completing 69 percent of his passes this season for the Cowboys, who are 5-1 for the second time in three seasons after failing to win five of their first six in the previous six slates.

Here’s more from around the league as its Sunday-night AFC South tilt commences.

  • A long-term contract extension for cornerback Xavier Rhodes should be atop Vikings general manager Rick Spielman‘s to-do list, opines Andrew Krammer of the Star Tribune. Rhodes’ overall performance ranks a below-average 63rd among Pro Football Focus’ 114 qualifying corners, but as Krammer notes, the 26-year-old has held his own against stiff competition since last season. In matchups against Rhodes, star receivers Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, DeAndre Hopkins and Alshon Jeffery have combined to catch 13 passes — not even half of their 30 targets — for 145 yards and two touchdowns. The Vikings exercised Rhodes’ fifth-year option for 2017 last May, so the 2013 first-round pick will remain with the club for at least another season after this one.
  • The Rams‘ Week 8 bye following their London trip represented a reasonable window to make the change from Case Keenum to Jared Goff, but the stopgap veteran’s performance in Sunday’s loss to the Lions could delay that timetable, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times writes. In completing 27-of-32 passes for 321 yards and three touchdown passes, Keenum broke Jim Everett’s franchise record by hitting on 19 straight passes today.
  • The Panthers‘ decision to rescind Josh Norman‘s $13.952MM franchise tender continues to induce young talents to take their lumps, with Drew Brees setting the career 400-plus-yard passing games record against Carolina today. As Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer notes, Dave Gettleman has also yet to say why Bene Benwikere — a 14-game starter for the Panthers over the past three years and their longest-tenured corner coming into the season — was the scapegoat for Matt Ryan‘s 500-plus-yard day. Carolina, which started third- and fifth-round rookies Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez against the Saints, has upwards of $17MM in cap space. The Panthers hope second-rounder James Bradberry will be back after the team’s Week 8 bye, per Person.
  • A resolution on the Cam Newton concussion investigation stemming from Week 1 is expected to arrive by Monday, Florio reports. The NFL wants a joint press release between the league and the NFLPA, but the union is resisting, according to Florio. The verdict is expected to reveal no violation of the concussion protocol occurred, but this outcome is also likely to produce more changes on how it comes to be known whether or not a player needs to be evaluated.

Connor Byrne contributed to this report.

Cam Newton Likely To Start Sunday

After missing his first game since 2014 in Week 5, a 17-14 loss to the Buccaneers, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is on track to start Sunday, reports Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. Newton, who succumbed to a concussion late in the Panthers’ Week 4 defeat in Atlanta, was a full participant in practice Thursday. The NFL’s reigning MVP will need medical clearance before returning to game action, but head coach Ron Rivera said he “so far” looks primed to suit up against the Saints.

Cam Newton

The Panthers didn’t necessarily struggle to move the ball without Newton this past Monday, as they combined for 414 total yards, but they had difficulty scoring and backup signal-caller Derek Anderson threw two interceptions. The defending NFC champions shockingly dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in their division in the process.

Next up for the Panthers is a road tilt against another NFC South opponent, 1-3 New Orleans, in a hugely important game for both teams. Carolina seems more likely to rebound from its poor start than the Saints are from theirs, though a fourth straight defeat would make rallying to overtake the 4-1 Falcons in the division or at least grab a wild-card spot all the more difficult for the Panthers.

In addition to Newton, another integral offensive piece – running back Jonathan Stewart – should return against the Saints, according to Person. Stewart hasn’t suited up since the Panthers’ 46-27 win over the 49ers in Week 2, when he departed with a hamstring injury. He and Newton were among the driving forces behind the Panthers’ success last season, but they’ve taken steps back in the early going this year. Having tossed five interceptions, Newton is already halfway to last season’s 16-game total. He has also experienced a drop-off in most other major statistical categories after combining for 45 touchdowns and nearly 4,500 yards as a passer and rusher in 2015. Stewart, meanwhile, has picked up just 73 yards on 20 carries.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Rule Out Cam Newton For Week 5

For the third time in the past three seasons, the Buccaneers will face a Panthers team not quarterbacked by Cam Newton. The Panthers ruled out the reigning league MVP for Monday night’s contest after he suffered a concussion during the second half against the Falcons, David Newton of ESPN.com reports.

Both of the Carolina-Tampa Bay tilts in 2014 featured Derek Anderson at quarterback instead of Newton, and the defending NFC champions will use that arrangement Monday night. The Panthers won both games behind Anderson, but they came against a Bucs team that ended up going 2-14 to be in position to draft current starter Jameis Winston.

A hit from Falcons middle linebacker Deion Jones on a Newton two-point conversion run in the fourth quarter caused the head injury. Anderson then completed 17-of-23 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. The 33-year-old backup is a 54 percent passer for his career, although he did complete 67 percent of his throws in 2014 in relief of Newton.

Newton, of course, has been at the center of the NFL’s concussion controversy this season. The helmet-to-helmet hits he absorbed in Week 1 didn’t result in a concussion, per Panthers doctors, but brought more scrutiny on the league’s protocol.

The Panthers travel to face the Saints in Week 6 and have their bye in Week 7.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cam Newton Unlikely To Play Monday

If the defending NFC champion Panthers are going to start digging out out of a 1-3 hole in Week 5, they might have to do it without quarterback Cam Newton. The reigning NFL MVP remains in concussion protocol as a result of a fourth-quarter hit in the Panthers’ 48-33 loss to the Falcons last Sunday and has missed back-to-back practices. As a result, he’s unlikely to suit up Monday in Tampa Bay, according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer.

Cam Newton

While it could benefit Newton and the Panthers that he has an extra day to recover, the club only has two light practices remaining before Monday. That doesn’t bode well for a player who must successfully go through the NFL’s various steps to return from a concussion, as Person notes.

Newton hasn’t missed a game since 2014, and the two he sat out that year also came against the NFC South rival Buccaneers (1-3). Derek Anderson, who will start Monday if Newton can’t, completed 49-of-74 passes for 507 yards and three touchdowns in those matchups as he helped the Panthers to a pair of wins. Anderson relieved Newton last week and turned in an uneven performance, connecting on 17-of-23 attempts for 172 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

Newton led the Panthers to a 15-1 record last year while combining for 45 TDs (35 passing, 10 rushing) and nearly 4,500 total yards, but he hasn’t been nearly as effective this season. With five interceptions, the sixth-year man is already halfway to last season’s 16-game total and has also experienced a drop-off in most other major statistical categories. More alarmingly, he has now dealt with concussion questions multiple times in less than a month. In a Week 1 loss to the Broncos, Newton absorbed a handful of helmet-to-helmet hits, though team doctors determined that he didn’t suffer a concussion.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.