The Cam Newton era in Carolina has reached an unceremonious conclusion. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Panthers have opted to release the former league MVP, with confirmation coming from Mike Garafolo and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Newton is expected to hit the free agent market some time on Tuesday.
Panthers are expected to release QB Cam Newton today, sources tell ESPN.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 24, 2020
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 24, 2020
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Panthers did try to find a trade partner for Newton and had a few potential destinations in mind. When none materialized, their hand was forced.
The #Panthers tried to send Cam Newton to the #Bears and #Chargers. They found no takers and at this point, no starting jobs available. Release was the only option. Carolina has just $2M in dead money with this release, but Cam is now free.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 24, 2020
While this is the latest development in Carolina’s overhaul of its QB room under new head coach Matt Rhule — Kyle Allen was moved for a fifth-round selection, while Teddy Bridgewater got a three-year, $63 million deal — it is certainly jarring to see Newton’s tenure with the franchise end this abruptly. The team had previously announced it was working with Newton to find a trade, something that caused some tension between the franchise and the player, but nothing came to fruition.
There’s a number of experienced signal callers available on the free agent or trade markets, like Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton, but when he’s healthy, Newton is the best of the bunch. The issue is that football has taken quite the physical toll on him in recent years, something that came to a head during the 2019 campaign when he appeared in two games and wasn’t nearly as dynamic as we’ve seen out of him on his best days.
He had foot surgery back in December, which makes finding a landing spot for him especially complicated because the NFL has paused physicals and workouts while everyone is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Between his foot and the surgery he needed on his throwing shoulder at the end of the 2018 campaign, it makes sense if teams would want to see how things are going with Newton before committing to a deal.
For his career, the three-time Pro Bowl selection has completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 29,041 yards with 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions. Newton, who turns 31 in May, has also accrued 4,806 rushing yards and 58 scores on the ground.