I’ve got to admit, I’m surprised at the Carolina Panthers decision to release quarterback Cam Newton, the team’s No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 draft. Sure, Newton is still recovering from foot surgery, but he had a physical in Atlanta yesterday that was setup by the Panthers and his agency, which he passed.
The decision to move on from the franchise’s QB of nine years wasn’t easy, especially for general manager Marty Hurney, who drafted Newton. Cam threw for just over 29,000 yards with 182 TDs to 108 INTs through 125 games. Newton lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance in 2016.
“Obviously it was, you know, tough. You have to make very difficult decisions every year and this was probably one of the most difficult,” Hurney said in a teleconference, his first public comments since new coach Matt Rhule was introduced Jan. 8. “I mean, I drafted Cam, and we all know everything he’s brought to the organization both on and off the field. So it was extremely difficult.”
“A lot of thought and communication went into it. And once we made that (decision), we let Cam know immediately and, you know, these are all these difficult decisions that have their own timeline, each one of them. And you make them for reasons … and obviously a lot plays into every one of those decisions as it did this one,” Hurney said. “I just think that you guys know how much we respect Cam and again, I appreciate everything he’s given and it was extremely difficult, but that’s where we ended up.”
His release ends the team’s nine-year relationship with the 2015 NFL MVP. A week ago, the Panthers announced that they had given him permission to seek a trade. Newton disputed that, however, writing on Twitter that the Panthers “forced me into this.”
Within hours of that tweet, it came out that the Panthers were completing a deal to sign former New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal, and that they needed to release Newton to clear the $21.1 million that he was scheduled to count against the salary cap in 2020.
The timing for Cam Newton couldn’t be worse, as teams can’t bring him in for a physical or workout because the NFL has ceased such activity during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Right now, he’s worth nothing until such time as people can work him out and give him a physical — their own doctors give him a physical and then work him out,” Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Bill Polian told ESPN. “It’s unfortunate. He’s got to prove he’s healthy for a number of reasons, and right now he can’t do that, for a number of reasons.”
It should be interesting to see how this all plays out for Newton, especially given the unusual circumstances because of the coronavirus and all.