Cam Newton

NFC Notes: Newton, Cardinals, Giants

The Panthers got off to a hot start last year, racing out to a 6-2 record. They appeared destined for a playoff berth, and then Cam Newton‘s shoulder fell apart. Within a couple of weeks Newton could barely get the ball downfield, and the Panthers collapsed. They shut Newton down with a couple of weeks left, and ended up losing seven of their last eight games. Newton had another surgery on his shoulder this offseason, and obviously his recovery will determine how Carolina does in 2019. To help avoid further issues on his troublesome shoulder, Newton changed his throwing motion, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.

Florio doesn’t sound too high on the changes, writing that it’s a “funky new throwing motion, which has Cam pulling the ball over the top of his shoulder, almost pressing it up against his head.” Florio also questions if it’ll last, wondering if “Newton will instinctively revert to his old ways” once bullets start flying in the regular season. This upcoming season is a huge one for the Panthers, as Ron Rivera will be on the hot seat if they don’t make it back to the playoffs. Newton is on the wrong side of 30 now, and needs to prove his shoulder isn’t going to turn into an Andrew Luck situation. Hopefully he’s back to full strength when training camp opens next month.

Here’s more from the NFC:

  • Recently, we heard that the Cardinals were likely to cut former first-round pick Robert Nkemdiche. Former NFL agent and current CBS Sports analyst Joel Corry tweeted that the Cardinals could save $1.522MM if they cut him before the fifth day of training camp when he’s due a roster bonus, but he also noted that it’s more likely to be $961K in cap savings if Nkemdiche qualifies for the CBA’s injury protection. In a separate tweet, Corry explains that “since there’s remaining time on Robert Nkemdichie’s contract & he was injured last season where he may not be able to play this season, he has a potential injury protection claim for 50% of his 2019 base salary.” Nkemdiche tore his ACL toward the end of last season, and is unlikely to be able to pass a physical by the start of training camp. The 29th overall pick of the 2016 draft is also likely facing a suspension from the league for his arrest earlier this month.
  • Linebacker Tae Davis was an undrafted rookie last year, but he ended up playing a meaningful role for the Giants. This year, that role might get even larger. Davis “spent plenty of time in the spring working with the first team,” and will be competing with B.J. Goodson for a starting spot in training camp, per Paul Schwartz of the NY Post. Scwhartz notes that Goodson started 13 games last year, but he thinks he’s vulnerable. Davis showed well in limited action, and the unheralded Chattanooga product seems to be impressing the coaching staff. Further helping his cause is the fact that Goodson was a draft pick of the previous power structure in New York that has since been swept out.
  • In case you missed it, Redskins owner Dan Snyder will apparently be involved in the decision on whether or not to start Dwayne Haskins.

Latest On Cam Newton’s Recovery

Cam Newton is set to make another major step in his recovery from offseason shoulder surgery. Max Henson of the team’s website writes that the Panthers franchise quarterback will participate in quarterback drills during the team’s upcoming three-day minicamp.

“This is all part of the rehab process,” said head athletic trainer Ryan Vermillion. “Cam has worked extremely hard this offseason with his rehabilitation and his preparation.

“He’s going to continue the throwing program Tuesday and we’ll advance it as we monitor his progress. He’s achieved every milestone we’ve set out for him so far in preparation for this.”

Shortly after the 2018 season came to an end, Newton underwent an arthroscopic procedure on his throwing shoulder. There’s been plenty of optimism that the quarterback would be ready for training camp. We learned in early May that his rehab was “unbelievable,” and we last heard that Newton was throwing a regulation-size football at the end of May. During the upcoming minicamp, Newton will be executing a “limited number of throws to stationary targets,” and it sounds like he probably won’t participate in team drills.

The Panthers started the 2018 campaign with a 6-2 record, but everything went downhill when Newton popped up on the injury report with his shoulder issue. The team went 1-7 the rest of the way, and Newton was shut down for the final two games of the season. Despite the injury, Newton’s numbers were still impressive; he ultimately finished the campaign having completed a career-high 67.9-percent of his passes for 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. The 30-year-old also ran for 488 yards and four touchdowns on 101 carries.

If Newton takes a step back and is forced to miss any time, Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen, or rookie Will Grier would temporarily step up as the team’s number-one quarterback.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

This Date In Transactions History: Panthers Extend Cam Newton

During what became the best year in Panthers franchise history, the team took care of its centerpiece player. On June 2, 2015, the Panthers and Cam Newton reached an agreement on a five-year extension.

This deal preceded Newton’s monster 2015 season, a year that saw him pilot the Panthers to a 15-1 record and Super Bowl 50. The extension turned out to be incredibly team-friendly — especially as the quarterback market exploded in the years that followed. Newton signed a five-year, $103.8MM contract that came with $41MM fully guaranteed.

At that point, Aaron Rodgers‘ five-year, $110MM pact — agreed to in 2013 — remained the standard. And the market did not move much for the next two years. Both Andrew Luck and Derek Carr took it higher, with the latter’s extension spiking it to the $25MM-per-year mark. Now, having Newton on a $20.8MM-AAV deal is a staggering bargain for the Panthers — regardless of the 30-year-old quarterback’s situation — and represents a mark in the win column of embattled GM Dave Gettleman. The since-fired Carolina GM did not draft Newton but oversaw the extension process.

Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, Rodgers and Russell Wilson led to the passer market ballooning to its current place, with Wilson’s $35MM-AAV accord pacing the NFL. In between Carr’s deal in June 2017 and Wilson’s April 2019 re-up, the landscape has changed significantly. Newton is now the NFL’s 16th-highest-paid passer. His full-guarantee number ranks 11th. Both Ryan and Cousins more than doubled it in their most recent deals.

Newton has not come close to replicating his 2015 MVP performance, which featured 35 touchdown passes (11 more than any other season), 636 rushing yards and 10 TDs, and a 66.0 QBR. The former No. 1 overall pick regressed in 2016 and ’17, failing to top 22 touchdown passes or the No. 21 spot in QBR in either slate. The Auburn phenom was faring well in Norv Turner‘s offense last season, but another shoulder injury halted his progress and has forced a second lengthy rehab process in three years.

Two years remain, with cap numbers of $23.2MM and $21.1MM, on Newton’s contract. He is not in a strong bargaining position right now, reinjuring his shoulder and having just resumed throwing regulation-sized footballs. But if Newton returns to the form he showed to start last season, extension talks figure to transpire in 2020. The Panthers used a third-round pick on Will Grier but remain committed to Newton as their starter.

That said, this will be a key season for the three-time Pro Bowler — particularly from a health standpoint. If 2019 does not go well, the Panthers could get out of Newton’s deal with merely a $2MM dead-money charge. Although, if the team wanted to change course after nine years of Newton, this contract (and the passer’s talent) would not make for difficult trade talks. But we’re obviously a ways away from that potential reality. The most successful quarterback in Panthers history will have a chance to rebuild his value soon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC South Notes: Panthers, Falcons, Bucs

Although initial reports indicated Gerald McCoy‘s visit with the Panthers would begin on Thursday, he’ll actually begin meeting with the club on Friday, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The Ravens and Browns have already hosted McCoy, and despite a slew of other reported interest, it appears McCoy will decide between Baltimore, Cleveland, and Carolina, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com suggests (Twitter link). McCoy, 31, has reportedly drawn offers as high as $11MM per year, although that figure is difficult to believe at face value, especially given Ndamukong Suh — McCoy’s replacement in Tampa Bay — collected only $9.25MM on a one-year deal.

Here’s more from the NFC South:

  • The Panthers are planning to run more 3-4 looks on defense, at least when they’re in base on early downs, as David Newton of ESPN.com writes. Rumors of a scheme change in Carolina have been bubbling for months, but head coach Ron Rivera hadn’t yet confirmed the move. Per Newton, the Panthers began experimenting with 3-4 fronts after Rivera took over play-calling for the final month of the season. According to Warren Sharp’s personnel data, Carolina ranked near the bottom of the league in 2018 in facing three-plus receivers — if that trend continues next year, the Panthers will spend a good deal of time in their new 3-4 base defense.
  • Defensive end Takkarist McKinley has been experimenting at linebacker during the Falcons‘ organized team activities, reports D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution. McKinley, a first-round pick in the 2017 draft, has been lining up over the tight end on certain plays. “There will be some packages where can be a linebacker,” head coach Dan Quinn said. “The value in that (presents the question of) is he a rusher or is he a dropper?” The 23-year-old McKinley posted eight sacks and 50 pressures on 617 snaps last season.
  • Cam Newton has continually expressed optimism that he’ll be ready for training camp after undergoing offseason shoulder injury, and the Panthers quarterback recent took a step in the right direction. Newton has begun throwing a regulation size football, per Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. The 30-year-old signal-caller sat out the final two games of the 2018 season while dealing with shoulder pain that eventually led to his operation.
  • New director of athlete performance Greg Skaggs will head a sports science department on the Buccaneers‘ staff, tweets Greg Auman of The Athletic (Twitter link). Skaggs and his crew will work on training and conditioning techniques in an effort to “optimize player health and production.”

NFC Notes: Wagner, Newton, Zeke

We learned yesterday that the Seahawks and linebacker Bobby Wagner may not have held serious discussions regarding a new contract just yet, and we speculated that if Wagner pushes for a top-of-the-market deal (i.e. $17MM per season), he may be playing elsewhere in 2020. And as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets, Wagner will indeed be looking to meet or exceed C.J. Mosley‘s new contract with the Jets, and he will not be taking a hometown discount. If that’s the case, it will be difficult for Seattle to retain him.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • Good news for Panthers fans. Per David Newton of ESPN.com, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton says his rehab from shoulder surgery is going “unbelievable,” and he hopes to be throwing before training camp. Newton, who turns 30 on Saturday, still doesn’t have a timetable for when he’ll be cleared, but everything is trending upwards so far.
  • The Cowboys may be preparing for life after Ezekiel Elliott, but Albert Breer of SI.com believes it would be a mistake for Dallas to move on anytime soon. He notes that the Cowboys are built to rely on Elliott, and if they ink him to a big-money deal now, they could spare themselves lengthy and potentially contentious negotiations, and they could still cut ties later on in the contract — once the guaranteed money is gone — if Elliott’s abilities start to fade.
  • The Packers claimed wide receiver Jawill Davis off waivers from the Giants earlier today, and Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writes that Davis will compete for a return specialist role. Davis appeared in seven games for Big Blue last season, returning 12 punts and seven kickoffs. He also caught four passes for 40 yards.
  • We wrote earlier today that the Buccaneers may be preparing to cut Gerald McCoy.

NFC Notes: Rosen, Kittle, Newton

Amidst a deluge of trade speculation concerning second-year QB Josh Rosen, the Cardinals opted against making Rosen available to the media last week. But Rosen himself spoke to SI.TV (video link) about his uncertain status with the club, and while he did not disparage Arizona, he certainly sounded frustrated. He said, “I definitely understand the situation. I mean, it’s annoying but, like, it is what it is. Football’s a business, and I definitely respect the higher-ups and their decisions. . . . Whatever decisions are made, it’s my duty to prove them right if they keep me, and prove them wrong if they ship me off” (h/t Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk).

Now for more from around the NFC:

  • Regardless of who the Cardinals‘ QB is in 2019, RB David Johnson will be getting a ton of touches, both in terms of carries and as a receiver. Johnson said (via Bob McManaman of the Arizona Republic), “[m]y role this upcoming season, from talking to the coaches, is that I’m going to hopefully get the ball a little bit more.” New head coach Kliff Kingsbury recently said he will build his offense around Johnson, who will be asked to earn every penny of the big-money extension he inked last September. Assuming he can remain healthy, Johnson should be able to tally at least 1,800 all-purpose yards.
  • 49ers tight end George Kittle posted a whopping 1,377 receiving yards last year, and as Matt Barrows of The Athletic (subscription required) writes, Kittle recorded 797 of those yards while injured. Barrows reports that Kittle suffered fractured cartilage in his rib cage early in the team’s Week 9 win over the Raiders, and that he wore two large rib protectors for the rest of the season. It sounds as if Kittle is (or will be) fully-recovered, and he is prepared to build on his monster 2018 campaign.
  • Panthers head coach Ron Rivera said QB Cam Newton has gotten a lot of his range of motion back, and while Newton hasn’t resumed throwing yet, that time is coming (via Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer). However, Rivera stopped shy of giving a timetable for Newton’s return.
  • As Rodrigue writes, the Panthers have been taking a look at this year’s collegiate passers, which has sparked some concern about Newton’s status. But Rivera and GM Marty Hurney downplayed the meaning of their QB scouting, and Rivera said, “I don’t think we’ve spent any more time on quarterbacks (this year) than we have in the past.” Rodrigue says the club remains optimistic about Newton’s progress, and while the Panthers could select a quarterback if the right player falls to them, they are not going to reach for one, and they are going to keep their focus on reviving the pass rush and bolstering the O-line.
  • Yesterday, Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones confirmed that the club will be exercising Ezekiel Elliott‘s fifth-year option, and as Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk writes, Jones also said that he will “obviously” be looking for a strong backup for Elliott. Rod Smith was the team’s No. 2 RB last year, but he is still a free agent, and it sounds as though Dallas wants an upgrade. The Cowboys are unlikely to invest a high-level draft choice on an RB given that Elliott will get the lion’s share of the touches, but a quality Day 3 prospect could be in the mix.

Extra Points: Quarterbacks, Newton, Vince Young

This NFL offseason should have one of the busiest quarterback carousels in recent memory. This April’s draft class is widely regarded as being light on day one starters, and as such at least a handful of teams will be in the market for veteran starters. Vets like Joe Flacco, Ryan Tannehill, and Nick Foles will all be on new teams whether through trades or free agency. Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports took the time to break down the quarterback situation for nearly every team in the league, examining the situation of every team that will be in the market for either a new starter or a new backup.

The whole piece is worth a read, and among the most notable predictions is Foles landing with the Jaguars. La Canfora writes that “it is clear the Jags are clinging to winning now”, and he thinks they’ll pursue either Foles or Flacco. He also projects Kyler Murray to the Dolphins, Dwayne Haskins to the Giants, and Ryan Fitzpatrick to the Packers as insurance given Aaron Rodgers‘ recent injury history.

Here’s more from around the league, with an eye on the offseason:

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, the Panthers are apparently quite optimistic about Cam Newton‘s recovery from his latest shoulder surgery, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). We heard earlier that the team was hoping Newton would be ready for training camp, but that they’d take it easy with him this Spring. Pelissero now reports that the team believes he could even be well enough recovered to participate in some capacity in Carolina’s OTA sessions in a few months. Pelissero also clarified that there was no structural damage to Newton’s shoulder, and that the Panthers believe the issues that prevented him from pushing the ball deep down the field should now be completely gone next season.
  • Get enough quarterbacks news yet? Well, former NFL quarterback and number three overall pick Vince Young was arrested earlier this week and charged with driving while impaired, according to TMZ.com. Young was also hit with a DUI back in 2016. The former Texas star last was on an NFL roster when he spent two weeks with the Browns during the offseason in 2014. In 2017 he mad a comeback in the CFL, but tore a hamstring in training camp and never appeared in a game.
  • In case you missed it, the Cardinals signed former Falcons cornerback Robert Alford to a three-year deal in a pre-free agency signing.

NFC Notes: Wilson, Foles, Newton, Rams

We heard in early January that the Seahawks would begin contract negotiations with star QB Russell Wilson “soon,” but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com writes that the two sides have yet to have a single contract discussion. Wilson is under club control through the 2019 season and is set to earn $17MM next year, and he has previously stated he would be willing to play out the final year of his deal and perhaps go year-to-year under the franchise tag. But as Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times observes, the fact that Wilson and the Seahawks have not talked contract yet does not mean much (Twitter link). He says the team will get through other team-building matters first and then start exploring extensions, just as it did when it came time to explore a new deal with Wilson in 2015.

Now for more from the NFC:

  • We know that the Eagles want to trade Nick Foles, and yesterday we explored (again) how such a trade is likely to come about. While player and club would like to work “in concert” in determining Foles’ next team, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen (via Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP) says the Eagles are going to try to keep Foles out of the NFC East — the Redskins and Giants could be in the market — and would prefer to deal him to an AFC team. Meanwhile, Sheil Kapadia of The Athletic believes it only make sense for the Eagles to franchise Foles if they already have a trade in place, and that the recent chatter concerning the franchise tag is merely a bluff at this point.
  • Schefter confirms a report from earlier this week that Panthers QB Cam Newton, who underwent arthroscopic shoulder surgery last week, is expected to be ready in time for training camp and certainly will be good to go when the regular season rolls around.
  • Ian Rapoport of NFL.com says that the Rams, who signed running back C.J. Anderson in December, “absolutely” want to re-sign Anderson this offseason. That makes sense considering how good Anderson has been in his brief tenure with the club, and considering Todd Gurley‘s history of knee problems. Anderson, though, could be in line for a bigger role or salary than what Los Angeles is prepared to give. Anderson is expected to get plenty of work in tonight’s Super Bowl.
  • Rams QB coach Zac Taylor will be formally announced as the Bengals’ next head coach tomorrow, and Rapoport tweets that LA may move senior offensive assistant Jedd Fisch to QB coach. The club could also give current TE coach/passing game coordinator Shane Waldron the passing game coordinator title without requiring him to coach a position and bring in Wes Phillips to coach the tight ends.
  • As expected, the Buccaneers will transition to a 3-4, one-gap defense under new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, per Jenna Laine of ESPN.com. Laine looks at how the Bucs could deploy their current personnel to mirror Wade Phillips‘ success in transitioning two 4-3 defenses to 3-4 schemes.

Cam Newton Expected To Be Ready For Training Camp

New Panthers owner David Tepper sparked panic among the team’s fanbase when he compared Cam Newton‘s shoulder situation to Andrew Luck‘s, and seemed to hint that Newton could miss the entire 2019 season. Less than a week later, it was announced that Newton underwent another shoulder surgery.

That only increased the uncertainty surrounding his status, but Panthers fans got some good news today. Newton is recovering well, and the Panthers’ coaching staff is “optimistic that Newton will fully rehabilitated by training camp”, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of the Charlotte Observer. Rodrigue had head coach Ron Rivera speaking on the record, and he sounded fairly confident that Newton isn’t in any danger of missing any regular season time.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network followed up with a tweet pointing out that the “surgery was not to his rotator cuff like last year’s was”, so it wasn’t necessarily an aggravation of the previous injury. In Rodrigue’s piece, which is worth a read, Rivera details how Newton was dealing with crippling pain the second half of the season that significantly limited his range of motion in his arm and hurt his accuracy.

It doesn’t sound like a Luck situation is going to play out, and while Rodrigue notes that the team plans to take it easy with Newton this spring, we should see him at close to full speed this summer. Rivera said Newton has already shown “marked improvement” and that “he has gotten a lot of range of motion back.” The Panthers started the year 6-2, but everything went downhill when Newton popped up on the injury report with his shoulder issue. The team went 1-7 the rest of the way, and Newton was shut down for the final two games of the season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Panthers Notes: Newton, Hostler, Obada

Cam Newton underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Thursday, the Panthers announced. While Carolina did say Newton will immediately begin his rehabilitation process, the team did not provide a timeline for his recovery. However, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (Twitter link) hears the signal-caller’s procedure was not of the “major reconstructive” variety, while Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets the operation was relatively minor. Indeed, Newton is expected to resume throwing by the time organized team activities begin in May, per Breer.

Here’s more from Carolina:

  • The Panthers — who currently run a 4-3 defense — may implement more 3-4 looks in 2019, according to Joseph Person of The Athletic. While it doesn’t appear Carolina will make a full-fledged change to a 3-4 front, the club does plan on deploying multiple defensive schemes. Dontari Poe would become a natural nose tackle (a role he played in Kansas City), while Luke Kuechly and Shaq Thompson would handle middle linebacker. The real issue, however, would be finding edge rushers that could fit into a 3-4 scheme. The Panthers’ potential shift isn’t necessarily being driven by change in personnel or coaching, as defensive coordinator Eric Washington is remaining in place while head coach Ron Rivera will continue to call defensive plays.
  • Former Packers passing game coordinator Jim Hostler has been hired as the Panthers’ new wide receivers coach, the club recently announced. Hostler, 52, is a long-time NFL coach with experience dating back to 2000. He spent only one season in Green Bay working with the team’s offense, and wasn’t retained when the Packers hired new head coach Matt LaFleur. Hostler, who is replacing Lance Taylor on Carolina’s staff, will work with a wideout group that currently includes D.J. Moore, Torrey Smith, Curtis Samuel, and Jarius Wright (plus pending free agent Devin Funchess).
  • Defensive end Efe Obada‘s one year-deal with the Panthers is worth $570K, tweets David Newton of ESPN.com. The minimum salary for a player with one year of NFL experience (like Obada) will be $555K in 2019, so Carolina is giving the 27-year-old a slight pay bump. Obada was scheduled to become an exclusive rights free agent, meaning he wouldn’t have hit the open market unless the Panthers opted to non-tender him.