Aug 11, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA Carolina Panthers quarterback Jimmy Clausen (7) gets pressured by Houston Texans linebacker Whitney Mercilus (59) during the second half at Bank of America Stadium. The Texans defeated the Panthers 26-13. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Is This Jimmy Clausen's Final Season With The Carolina Panthers?

When the Carolina Panthers selected former Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft, it appeared as if they had a possible franchise quarterback on the roster.

However, Clausen’s first season was nothing short of a struggle, and the former standout for the Fighting Irish failed to remain the starting quarterback for the entire season. He played in 13 games, throwing just three touchdown passes and completing only 52.5% of his passes.

Clausen’s struggles put the Panthers in position to draft former Auburn quarterback Cam Newton with the first pick in the following year’s draft, ending any chance of Clausen proving himself as a long-term starter in Carolina. Since Newton’s arrival in Carolina, Clausen has failed to attempt another pass for the Panthers. With Newton’s success and the fact that he stays healthy, Clausen may never attempt another regular season pass in Carolina.

During the offseason, the Panthers re-signed Derek Anderson to a one-year deal, and the veteran figures to be the team’s backup quarterback, demoting Clausen to third string yet again. The other quarterback on the roster, undrafted rookie Colby Cameron, could give Clausen serious competition for the third quarterback job. At worst, Cameron figures to be reliable enough to make the practice squad.

The problem for Clausen entering this season is that it is the final year of his rookie contract, and he is set to become a free agent at the end of the season. For a player who has failed to prove anything to the Carolina coaching staff through three years, he will face an uphill battle to prove that he should be re-signed at season’s end.

In fact, Clausen’s roster spot isn’t even safe for this season, as the fact that Newton has never missed a start in his career could lead to the Panthers keeping just two quarterbacks, leading to a possible Clausen release.

For a player whose career seemed so promising three years ago, there’s a chance that his time in Carolina could be coming to an end sooner than later. Unless he can produce four consistent games in the preseason, the Panthers will seriously consider moving on from Clausen before the start of the season, admitting he was the wrong pick in 2010.

Best case scenario for Clausen: he sticks around for one more year before his inevitable exit from Carolina after the 2013 season.

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Tags: Cam Newton Carolina Panthers Colby Cameron Derek Anderson Jimmy Clausen NFL

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