Carolina Panthers move Cam Newton to Injured Reserve, ending his season but will he return?
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton injured his foot during preseason play and attempted to remain in the lineup to start Week 1 just two weeks later. After a sluggish 0-2 start for the Panthers and Newton in particular, it was revealed the Lisfranc injury that sidelined him was reaggravated and would require additional time to heal.
In the interim Carolina turned to backup Kyle Allen, who effectively led the offense and benefited from an aggressive defense to win four straight before an undefeated San Francisco 49ers team derailed their momentum. Rebounding with a home win against the Titans, Carolina remains in the playoff picture and hopes were a healthy return of Newton would only serve to boost this team’s credibility.
Unfortunately, that will not be the case as the team announced his move to injured reserve – effectively ending his season. After recent visits with medical specialist, it was determined Newton needs more time to fully recover from the injury and with only one year remaining on his current contract, speculation about if his time with the Panthers is effectively over are guaranteed to surface.
If Newton were traded or released following the season, Carolina would stand to gain a potential $19 million in cap savings. This money could be served to find a suitable long-term replacement or extend the soon to be expiring rookie contract for running back Christian McCaffrey. Undoubtedly, a difficult decision for the front office as Newton has more than earned the right to prove himself capable of returning and again performing at a high level.
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This is the question facing general manager Marty Hurney, coach Ron Rivera and team owner David Tepper. Waiting to see if Newton can rehab for nearly a full calendar year and start fresh in 2020 remains a possibility but the risk/reward scenarios must be extensively considered.
As a former first overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, Newton has established himself as the foundation for the Carolina offense. For eight years, arguably the best stretch in franchise history, Newton and the Panthers won three consecutive divisional titles, went the playoffs four times, appeared in a Super Bowl and individually he was named league MVP for his 2011 performance.
Newton revolutionized the quarterback position, especially for the Panthers, but questions of if he can still generate the same type of performances a decade later with a growing injury history have to be addressed.
Almost every day the organization is responsible for making decisions that effectively impact the lives of their players but every now and then a situation arises that has the potential to change the overall path of the entire franchise.
This is one of those times and while there will be no rush with nothing anticipated to occur until after the 2019 season is complete – fans of the Panthers and everyone else around the league will be watching to see what happens next with Newton.