The 2021 season marks a full 10 years since Cam Newton entered the league and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the Carolina Panthers. Now, he’s potentially played his final snap in the pros.
Something tells us the days of the dual-threat star carving up defenses is at its end. Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots cut Newton, who started 15 games last year, after the preseason finale. Until something drastic and unexpected happens in the coming weeks, it’s time for Panthers owner David Tepper to bring the three-time Pro Bowler home.
David Tepper said the Panthers would ‘eventually’ bring Cam Newton home
Let’s go back to March 2021 for a second. The Panthers honored tight end Greg Olsen and linebacker Thomas Davis, two mainstays on the 2010s teams which reached the playoffs four times and lost in Super Bowl 50. Both signed one-day contracts and retired as members of the franchise.
When Tepper took the podium, he mentioned hearing constant praise for Davis, Newton, and Olsen upon purchasing the team in 2018. As two of those Panthers legends celebrated their retirements, the owner referenced the third, a quarterback who the team parted ways with following the 2019 season.
“And we’ll bring the other one home eventually,” Tepper said, clearly referring to Newton.
According to the Panthers’ official website, Olsen made it clear he believes the Panthers need to do something similar whenever Newton retires. At the time of that press conference, the former NFL MVP hadn’t officially re-signed with the Patriots yet.
“When that day comes, if anybody has earned the right to have a day like today to recognize all he gave to this organization, putting this organization on the map nationally, it was him, it was [former Panthers linebacker] Luke Kuechly, it’s guys that transcended being good football players, they were generational football players.
Newton re-signed with the Patriots later that month. Although he appeared to be the odds-on favorite to start in Week 1, the team cut him and named Mac Jones, the 15th overall pick from Alabama, the starting quarterback.
Tepper needs to follow through on that promise if Newton has reached the end
Those who love Newton will defend him to the end and argue he should still be a starting quarterback in the league. The veteran signal-caller ran for 12 touchdowns last year, his most since his rookie year, and threw for another eight in 15 starts. It’s hard to blame the bulk of the Patriots’ offensive issues on him, especially with how few reliable offensive weapons he had at his disposal.
For as bad as the Patriots’ receivers may have been last year, it’s hard to defend throwing eight touchdowns in 15 starts. But at 32 years old, it’s also not impossible to suggest the end might be near. He’s three seasons removed from being an efficient passer who can lift his team to victory.
Maybe it’s time for Tepper to bring Newton home, and that shouldn’t provide any embarrassment for the former ll-Pro quarterback. He’s among the greatest players in Panthers history and he ranked among the league’s most dangerous quarterbacks at the prime of his career. Let him have his day in the limelight and pose for photos with his former teammates and coaches.
There is no shame in retiring at this stage of the game. Even if Newton signs anywhere, it’ll almost certainly be as a backup or even a third-string quarterback. He’ll need to ask himself if that’s worth it when he can retire with his health, over $120 million in earnings, and an extremely memorable career.
Don’t expect to see Newton starting for an NFL team anytime soon
In the end, it’s Newton’s call on what he wants to do going forward. Unfortunately for him, he shouldn’t expect many teams to come calling with offers to realistically start this season.
The bulk of teams with young quarterbacks have an older backup behind them. If Newton’s desperate, he could try calling the New York Jets and presenting that he’s a better option than Josh Johnson and Mike White.
There aren’t many better options out there. The Washington Football Team are set in their quarterback room, so a reunion with former Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is out of the question. The Panthers aren’t re-signing him unless it’s on a one-day contract.
Some on social media suggested the New Orleans Saints add Newton as a traditional backup behind Jameis Winston. Such a move would allow Taysom Hill to focus solely on being a gadget player and all-purpose weapon. As of publication, the two sides had not been credibly linked, however.
Nothing is forever in the NFL. The one positive of all of this is that he sounds like someone who is guaranteed to have a retirement ceremony, unlike thousands of other professional football players.
All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.
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