Over the course of the 2018 season, it was clear that there was something wrong with Cam Newton’s shoulder – in his final game of the season, a 12-9 loss to the New Orleans Saints that all but eliminated the team from playoff contention, he could barely throw the ball downfield. His longest pass attempt traveled only 17 yards in the air in that game and he set season lows in completion percentage, passing yards, yards per attempt, touchdowns, and quarterback rating before being shut down for the final two games of the season.
“I wish I could say what the injury is because I don’t really know what it is either,” said Newton after that game. “No matter how much you push, no matter how much you ice, the anti-inflammatories you take. Trust me, I’ve done it. Acupuncture, massages. There’s not a night that goes by without me getting some type of work done on my arm.”
“You just don’t have the strength.”
Now the quarterback is moving past acupuncture, massages and whatever else he was trying to improve the shoulder soreness that had plagued him since a Week 7 win over the Philadelphia Eagles as the Panthers announced Thursday that the quarterback had an arthroscopic procedure on his right shoulder, performed by Panthers team physician Dr. Pat Connor – his second surgery on the shoulder in three years.
Newton previously had surgery in March of 2017 and was unable to throw during the offseason, including most of training camp and the preseason; the 29-year old quarterback who will turn 30 this spring threw for the second-lowest yardage total of his career in 2017 as he was held out of practice Wednesdays of most weeks – that schedule of keeping Newton from throwing during early practices of the week continued in 2018 after the Week 7 win in Philadelphia.
This iteration of the surgery, occurring two months earlier in the team’s offseason, may yield a different timetable – not to mention that an arthroscopic procedure is not as severe as the 2017 procedure to mend a partially-torn rotator cuff..
Owner David Tepper, in a small question-and-answer session last week, said that he is optimistic that the Panthers’ franchise quarterback would be fully healthy when the 2019 season started, but if he wasn’t, the team would be prepared for that scenario.
“You want to keep your options open as much as you possibly can and you’d like to put yourself in a position to win. Not in a position to lose, but a position to win,” said Tepper. “You know what you might be facing next year or not facing – hopefully Cam’s shoulder’s fantastic and we’re all hunky-dory, we’re fantastic – if it’s not, you may need more cap space.”
“You may need to go out and find somebody.”
While the free agent quarterback cabinet is not stocked, there are some groceries on the shelf as Teddy Bridgewater, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Nick Foles and Tyrod Taylor – all proven passers who have shown that they can run an NFL offense – are expected to be available. With a lot of teams either tied to a veteran QB or a “quarterback of the future”, there doesn’t appear to be that many teams who will be vying for the services of a journeyman QB, which may work in the Panthers’ favor when pursuing a free agent option.
Newton’s rehab will begin immediately.