Carolina Panthers quarterback situation ahead of the NFL Draft
Will the Carolina Panthers select a quarterback in the NFL Draft?
The Carolina Panthers are fortunate to have a franchise quarterback in Cam Newton but a second shoulder procedure in less than two years is a bit alarming. Newton originally tore his rotator cuff late in the 2016 season and after not receiving positive results from rest and therapy, underwent surgery the following March.
Recovery lasted an entire preseason where Newton was extremely limited and extended throughout the year when he was not allowed to complete passes during some practices. No regular season games were missed but it was apparent a “new normal” for the former No. 1 overall pick had been established.
Last year Newton continued to battle shoulder soreness and was twice lifted for backup Taylor Heinicke in Hail Mary passing situations. Eventually the Panthers elected to shut down their quarterback entirely, opting for Heinicke in the final two games. Unfortunately, more injuries mounted at the position and after both Heinicke and Kyle Allen were hurt, a familiar face re-signed for emergency purposes only, Garrett Gilbert, finished the season under center.
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Entering 2019 expectations are high despite a tremendous amount of roster turnover. Veteran captains Ryan Kalil and Julius Peppers retired, leaving openings along both the offensive and defensive lines, in addition to Carolina letting linebacker Thomas Davis leave. General manager Marty Hurney has worked hard to fill the void but no steps have been taken regarding the quarterback position.
A positive sign in terms of Carolina believing Newton should be fully healed and ready to participate but do they have an answer currently on the roster if something were to happen? Heinicke outplayed Gilbert last preseason, ultimately winning the backup spot and Allen also performed well when provided an opportunity but is either a long-term answer or someone the franchise would rely on in a hunt for the playoffs if Newton was unavailable?
Turning 30 in May, Newton should be in the prime of his career with many quality years left but his current contract also expires after the 2020 season. His performance this year will go a long way in determining what the team elects to do moving forward but currently drafting a quarterback is a little premature.
If Newton does well then a potential replacement to groom and prepare for the starting quarterback position may be a couple of more years away. However, if the shoulder continues to be an issue then quarterback will likely be high on the priority list for next year.
Either way it’s still too early to use a draft pick on a quarterback with needs at so many other positions.