The Cam Newton Era Is Probably Over In Carolina

Three years ago I wrote an article about Cam Newton and Andrew Luck being damaged goods. Players whose superstar skills and impactful careers were on the decline. Most people laughed at me and scoffed at the idea.

Fast forward to February 2020 and Luck retired prior to last season after suffering too much abuse and having to carry to big a burden behind a tattered offensive line and Newton played in two games last season and has been hampered by shoulder and foot injuries 

Newton insisted during Super Bowl week that he would be the Panthers starting QB entering the season. Panthers owner David Tepper, however,  still has plenty of questions regarding his health, via Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer

It’s a question of how healthy his foot and he is otherwise. And that’s still the number No. 1 overwhelming thing — to see how healthy he is and how we can figure out when he’s healthy or not. And everything comes from that.”

At this time four years ago Cam Newton was the anointed new face of the NFL, coming off an MVP season and a Super Bowl appearance. The Panthers lost to Peyton Manning and Denver in the Super Bowl, but the future of the league was all about Cam, a player who said the league “has never seen nothing that they can compare me to.” 

A raw combination of speed, agility, brute strength, toughness and a cannon for an arm. Who would have ever guessed that Super Bowl appearance would end up being the pinnacle of his 9-year career with the Panthers? 

Cam’s 2016 season started off poorly as he got bludgeoned with a barrage of dirty hits and headshots and it was an omen for what would become a dreadful season. Cam took quite a beating, culminating with a surgically repaired torn rotator cuff and internal and public pushes for him to chill on the running game and focus on precision passing. 

“I can’t let that happen again. Ever,” Newton recently told reporters at Panthers camp.  “I just want to get my swag back.” 

Well, Cam never got it back. Injury after injury derailed his future and though he played through them – never missing more than two starts until last season — suddenly, one of the greatest forces in the history of the game became quite ordinary. 

It happens in the NFL. We’ve been waiting on 2015 Cam to return for 5 seasons now. Cam’s greatest advocate — former HC Ron Rivera — was fired after a 2019 season devoid of Newton’s services. Panthers owner David Tepper has refused to commit to Cam and new coach Matt Rhule isn’t sold either. He’s expected to be traded. 

With the influx of young dual-threat superstar quarterbacks of color, Cam is old news and a reminder of how quickly you can go from living legend to forgotten superstar in the NFL. With new leadership in place, finding a younger franchise quarterback to build around is a priority for Carolina. 

Who would’ve thought that Cam’s career would take such a nose dive and his skills and health would evaporate rapidly? Too many hits to the dome. Too many heroics. 

You know he’s tight, but he’s not mad. Cam still believes that he can play and will be motivated to prove it with another team if necessary. 

It will be interesting to see if his ego can take the hit. Newton is a rich man and had his time in the sun. When he was given the keys to the Panthers’ franchise he came through with playoff appearances, accolades, excitement and made Carolina more relevant than it has ever been. 

The Dab sensation was the highpoint of Cam’s career. He single-handedly started a cultural phenomenon. The low point of his career was when he was accused of being sexist towards reporter Jourdan Rodrigues during a press conference in 2017.

Overall, Cam’s been a cash cow for the NFL. Before his recent absence from the field, he always ranked in the Top 15 selling jerseys in the NFL and his endorsement basket was colorful and plentiful.. 

Is this how anyone expected Cam to leave Carolina? No. 

Is it going to get uglier? Yes.

Fans and are split on whether or not the Panthers are mistreating Newton by publicly attempts to shop a guy who is the only reason why the franchise has been relevant the last decade. Adding insult to injury are recent reports that Carolina might pursue 38-year-old former Chargers legend Phillip Rivers, who is eight years Cam’s elder. 

That tells you everything you need to know. Money is also an issue. Cam is on the last year of a 5 yr – $103,800,000 contract he signed following that 2015 season.

He’s slated to make a whopping $18.6 million before becoming an unrestricted free agent in 2021. If the Panthers are truly in rebuild and rebrand mode, getting somebody to take his salary off their hands wouldn’t be crazy.  

The thought of Cam Newton being just 30 years old and his career as a Panther being over is, however, is plainly insane. 

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