The Panthers have given their – soon to be former – franchise quarterback Cam Newton and his camp permission to seek a trade, the team announced Tuesday afternoon.
“One of the distinct pleasures of my career was selecting Cam with the first pick in the 2011 draft,” Hurney said via the team website. “Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts.”
Newton, who has been the starting quarterback and the face of the franchise since being drafted #1 overall in 2011, has missed 16 games over the past two seasons and has had three surgeries, including two on his right shoulder, over the past four years. Newton has led the Panthers to four playoff appearances and a 68-55-1 record over his nine seasons in Carolina, including a trip to the Super Bowl in 2015, when the quarterback was named league MVP.
After missing all but the first two games of the season with a Lisfranc injury before eventually going under the knife in December to have a procedure to repair his foot and rumors swirling about his future with the team, Newton said last month while doing media rounds at the Super Bowl that he “absolutely” expected to be back in a Panthers uniform in 2020. While owner David Tepper was less absolute in his sentiments about Newton later that month – “is he healthy? Tell me that, and then we can talk.” – reports surfaced from the NFL Scouting Combine that the Panthers would elect to keep Newton on the roster for 2020.
But after multiple social media posts depicting Newton throwing inside the Panthers facility and new coach Matt Rhule saying that he was ‘excited’ to get the opportunity to coach Newton, the Panthers are set to move on from the 30-year old quarterback that holds nearly every franchise record available for a quarterback.
With the Panthers on the cusp of a rebuild under a new head coach and Newton on the final year of his deal, a fresh start appeared to make sense for both sides and that appears to be the direction the Panthers will head. But Newton weighed in on social media on the decision, firmly planting the blame on the shoulders of the team – the same thing tight end Greg Olsen had to do after that release was spun as a mutual agreement.
“ŠTØ₽ ₩ÏTH THĒ ₩ØRD ₽ŁÄ¥‼️ ï ñëvër âškëd før ït‼️ THĒRĒ ÏŠ ÑØ DØDGÏÑG THÏŠ ØÑĒ;” Newton commented on the Instagram post declaring the team’s intention in his signature font. “ï łøvë thë @panthers TØ DĒÄTH ÄÑD ₩ÏŁŁ ÄŁ₩Ä¥š ŁØVĒ ¥ØŪ GŪ¥š‼️₽ŁĒÄŠĒ DØ ÑØT TR¥ ÄÑD ₽ŁÄ¥ MĒ, ør MÄÑÏ₽ŪŁÄTĒ THĒ ÑÄRRÄTÏVĒ ÄÑD ÄČT ŁÏKĒ Ï ₩ÄÑTĒD THÏŠ; ÿøû førčëd më ïñtø thïš‼️ -1ØVĒ”
News broke almost simultaneously that the Panthers were in talks with free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, the 27-year old former first-round pick who spent his first three seasons in Minnesota before suffering a horrific leg injury and moving to the New Orleans Saints, where he has been the backup to Drew Brees for the past two seasons.
Bridgewater went 5-1 as a starter in New Orleans, completing 67.9% of his passes for 1,384 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions in 2019.