Cam Newton

Panthers Owner Discusses Cam Newton Injury

There have been whispers that Cam Newton could sit out the 2019 campaign as he recovers from a sore right shoulder. While Panthers owner David Tepper didn’t explicitly say that the Panthers franchise quarterback could miss the upcoming campaign, he did explain how that scenario could end up being a positive. Tepper specifically compared the situation to Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, who missed the entire 2017 campaign before coming back for a productive 2018 season.

“If you told me he took a year off and could recover and be fully recovered and everything else, and that’s what it took, an extra year, why wouldn’t you do [that]?” Tepper told ESPN’s David Newton. “Now we would have to do other things, right? We’d have to go out and get another quarterback. If you could find me some more cap space I’d appreciate that.”

Through 14 games in 2018, Newton completed a career-high 67.9-percent of his passes for 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. He also ran for another 488 yards and four scores. With strength in his shoulder fading, the Panthers decided to shut down Newton for the final two games of the season.

Tepper, who purchase the franchise for more than $2B back in May, recognizes that it would ultimately be in the organization’s best interest if Newton is at full health.

“When you make a decision, this gets into business, or here … you want to keep your options open as much as possible,” Tepper said. “And you want to put yourself in a position to win. Not a position to lose, but a position to win…That means keep your options open and try to have as much [cap] space as you possibly can.

“Hopefully, Cam’s shoulder is fantastic, right? And we’re hunky dory, all fantastic. If it’s not, you may need more cap space. You may need to go out and find somebody. If you don’t, you guys are going to be writing what a dope we are here. Why did we make these other moves? So think about that. You want to keep your options open, put yourself in best position as you can to win, and I’m talking again for the long term.”

Newton detailed several ways the Panthers could open up cap space this winter, noting that they could clear $7.2MM by releasing offensive lineman Matt Kalil and another $3.5MM by releasing cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Panthers’ Quarterbacks

It sounds like Cam Newton will be able to avoid offseason shoulder surgery. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports that the Panthers quarterback doesn’t have any structural damage to his throwing shoulder (Twitter link). This means Newton won’t have to undergo surgery (or deal with the accompanying rehab) during the offseason.

While Newton only recently acknowledged his shoulder injury, Rapoport says the quarterback had been dealing with pain through the second half of the season. This clearly had an impact on his production; over his past three games, Newton threw only two touchdowns vs. six interceptions (he had thrown seven interceptions in his team’s previous 11 games). The Panthers decided to shut down their franchise quarterback, allowing Taylor Heinicke to take over as the starter.

Unfortunately, the former undrafted free agent out of Old Dominion also suffered an injury during yesterday’s loss to the Falcons. Head coach Ron Rivera said Heinicke will undergo an MRI on his elbow today (via ESPN’s David Newton on Twitter). The quarterback was briefly knocked out of yesterday’s game after suffering an elbow injury, but he returned and managed to finish the game. He ended up completing 33 of his 53 pass attempts for 274 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. He also added 33 rushing yards.

If Heinicke is unable to go during the team’s season finale against the Saints, Kyle Allen would likely earn the starting nod. The rookie quarterback had a brief cameo during yesterday’s contest, completing all four of his passes for 38 yards. Newton notes that activating Newton “doesn’t sound like an option.” Joe Person of The Athletic tweets that the team could also consider adding signal-caller Garrett Gilbert, who was cut by the team prior to the regular season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Wentz, Gurley, Newton, Draft

Cam Newton will not play in the Panthersfinal two games, and Monday night was the tipping point. The eighth-year quarterback complained of shoulder pain in the fourth quarter of recent games, but Albert Breer of SI.com notes Newton was dealing with soreness in the third stanza of Carolina’s 12-9 loss to New Orleans. This, and the short week going into the Panthers’ Sunday game, prompted Ron Rivera and Marty Hurney to bring the idea of shutting the starter down to owner David Tepper. The rookie owner concurred with the coach and GM and then informed Newton of the plan, Breer adds. It’s unclear if Newton is dealing with anything beyond shoulder soreness, but he has not looked the same for weeks. And a national audience observed the former MVP’s throwing issues Monday.

Newton underwent shoulder surgery last year, sidelining him for much of the offseason. Two years remain on the 29-year-old QB’s contract, and how he recovers from this latest shoulder problem may determine the timetable the Panthers set for discussing another extension.

Here’s the latest from around the league going into Week 16:

  • Carson Wentz is set to join Newton in ending his season early, with back trouble shelving the Eagles‘ franchise passer. This, however, is not the first back issue Wentz has dealt with in his career. Wentz discovered a stress fracture in his back during his redshirt year at North Dakota State, Tim McManus of ESPN.com reports. This injury, suffered prior to his North Dakota State tenure, healed fairly soon and is not related to his current setback, per McManus. Still, this may be something for the Eagles to monitor as they determine how to proceed with Nick Foles or a possible replacement backup this coming offseason.
  • On the subject of NFC injuries, Todd Gurley has yet to resume running after he experienced knee inflammation, Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com notes. The fourth-year Rams running back returned to Sunday’s game but has not practiced this week. He does not plan to do so the rest of this week but does expect to play against the Cardinals. With the Rams facing two bottom-end teams during the final two weeks of this season (the Cards and 49ers), and being effectively down two games to the Saints in the home-field advantage race, it would not be a surprise if Sean McVay rested Gurley until the playoffs. McVay rested Gurley and other starters in Week 17 of last season, even though the Rams were not locked into a seed. The Rams, who have not held a first-round bye since 2003, are one game up on the Bears for this year’s No. 2 seed.
  • Ohio State running back Mike Weber has taken a backseat to J.K. Dobbins during the past two seasons, but the first of the Buckeyes’ post-Ezekiel Elliott starters will declare for the 2019 draft. A redshirt junior, Weber announced his decision on Twitter. Weber finished his career with 2,580 yards, 5.9 per carry, and 24 rushing touchdowns. He did not make much of an impact in the passing game but may be a mid-round prospect come April.
  • The Lions worked out quarterback Joe Callahan and hosted three CFL tryouts — for wide receivers Bryant Mitchell, D’haquille Williams and Jordan WilliamsLambert — on Thursday, NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets.
  • With reserve/futures decisions for non-playoff teams due soon (the first day such deals can be agreed to is New Year’s Eve), the Browns also worked out a CFL-to-NFL hopeful. Linebacker Sam Eguavoen auditioned for the Browns on Thursday, per Balzer (on Twitter).

Panthers To Sit Cam Newton

The Panthers are effectively out of the playoffs and they’re opting to protect their starting quarterback with two games to go. Cam Newton and his sore shoulder will head to the bench and Taylor Heinicke will take over as the starter for the rest of the year, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter).

Technically, the Panthers have a path to the postseason, but it would require a whole lot of favorable breaks in addition to two more wins. As the New York Times playoff tree shows, Carolina would need to win out and gain the cooperation of at least five other outcomes in order to even have a chance at extending their season. With less than a 1% chance of that happening, the Panthers will not risk the health of their franchise quarterback.

Newton, 29, captured the league’s MVP trophy in 2015 and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl 50 appearance. Since then, Newton and the Panthers have not been able to find the same level of success. The 2018 season was up-and-down for Newton & Co., even though the QB will finish out with a career high 67.9% completion percentage.

The Panthers inked Newton to a five-year, $103.8MM extension in the summer of 2015, so it only makes sense for them to protect their investment. Newton is set to count for a $23.2MM cap figure next year and a $21.1MM figure in 2020. However, next year will be a pivotal year for Newton and his future in Carolina. The Panthers can escape the final year of his deal with just $2MM in dead money, so finances would not prevent them from a reboot under center.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.