The Panthers hold one of the top assets in this offseason’s layered quarterback market, but Cam Newton‘s place as a trade chip cannot be fully known until a clearer picture of his recovery from Lisfranc surgery emerges. But the Panthers believe that recovery is going well.
The team expects Newton to pass his physical and be cleared for some football activity by March, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic reports (subscription required). This jibes with what has come out of the organization so far; the Panthers are planning to give the former MVP a chance to display his current form when he returns to football work in the spring.
While the Panthers are optimistic Newton will be ready to throw fairly soon, Newton’s status is murky. None of the David Tepper–Marty Hurney–Matt Rhule trio has confirmed the 30-year-old passer will be a Panther in 2020. Newton believes he will, but the contract-year quarterback would obviously intrigue other teams — ones who are not on a rebuild track the Panthers may well be. Newton has, however, been at the Panthers’ facilities this offseason during his recovery process — one that has thus far pleased team brass, per Rodrigue.
Even if Newton is ready to throw by March, the Panthers may be cautious with him and delay some of his work until April or May, per Rodrigue. However, it is certainly possible Newton will not be a Panther by then. In a complex quarterback landscape, teams may need to determine a course of action on Newton soon or risk losing another potential target on the free agent or trade market. The Panthers may also consider one of this year’s first-round quarterback prospects, adding more intrigue to this situation. Newton could serve as a mid-offseason trade chip, while it’s also possible Carolina unloads him earlier before he’s fully healthy if the right offer is made.
Newton is set to make just $18.6MM this season, which would make him a manageable bridge option for Rhule’s team and drive trade interest. It should be expected Newton’s status as a Panther will be determined by the draft, but considering the former Super Bowl starter’s recent injury history, the nine-year veteran may be one of the last quarterback dominoes to fall this offseason.
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