The Carolina Panthers moving on from Cam Newton has little to do with Teddy Bridgewater.
New Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule said he looked forward to working with Cam Newton. Owner David Tepper dodged questions left and right, ultimately leaning on the uncertainty of Newton’s health as a reason for the organizations unwillingness to make any type of commitment. General manager Marty Hurney, who drafted Newton No. 1 overall in 2011, essentially kept quiet until the outcome was revealed.
After leading the Panthers through their most successful stretch in franchise history, Newton suddenly became prone to injury. After missing just three games in seven seasons, the quarterback known as ‘Superman’ played in only 16 games over the past two years compiling a 6-10 record as the starter.
As Carolina moves in a new direction under Tepper and Rhule, Hurney targeted backup New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to take over under center. Bridgewater was once on the rise as a special talent in the NFL before suffering a gruesome leg injury prior to the 2016 season. Four years and two teams later, he’s set to become a full time starter in the league once again.
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Signing a three-year, $63 million contract, Bridgewater is expected to lead the Panthers offense in their first season under Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. While there is a small contingent of fans who are likely happy to see Newton leave, the majority is wondering how someone who has meant so much to this franchise can be traded or potentially cut so easily.
Regardless of the health issues, Newton at less than 100-percent is still better than many of the other remaining options around the league. However, with the amount of money Carolina can save by moving Newton, going forward with Bridgewater is the plan.
This is by no fault of Bridgewater, he simply proved capable of leading a franchise while taking over for Brees last season. Orchestrating an undefeated record (5-0) in his absence, Bridgewater was one of the best available free agent options on the open market. Seizing the opportunity, Hurney, Rhule and Tepper are taking a chance to potentially bridge the gap between Newton and another long-term solution with the best available right now.
As fans, Bridgewater should be embraced and welcomed in Carolina. Yes, he’s replacing a legendary player but there should be no angst aimed at the new Panthers quarterback.