The Panthers are releasing the former NFL MVP as soon as Tuesday, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported.
Carolina announced last Tuesday that it had allowed Newton to seek a trade. With few potential landing spots, no leverage, and major questions about his health, none materialized. The team moved on a week later.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft instantly became the face of the Panthers franchise, leading Carolina to three straight NFC South titles from 2013-2015, a Super Bowl and four total postseason appearances.
Newton earned the 2015 NFL MVP award and was named to three Pro Bowls during his run in Carolina.
It all deteriorated quickly for the hulking quarterback, however, as injuries took their toll over the past three seasons.
Newton underwent multiple shoulder surgeries and missed all but two games in 2019 due to a foot injury that ultimately required a procedure.
The lingering health questions left no team willing to part ways with draft assets to acquire a quarterback on the last year of his contract and one who would likely have wanted an extension.
The end to Newton’s run in Carolina came swiftly. After trade winds swirled at the close of the season, the Panthers‘ new coach Matt Rhule insisted during the NFL Scouting Combine he “absolutely” wanted Newton back.
Weeks later, the Panthers reversed gears, announcing last week that Newton could seek a trade — phrasing the quarterback rejected, saying the team “forced me into this,” in what can only be described as a bitter divorce spat. The same day, Carolina already had a replacement, signing Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million contract, with $33 million fully guaranteed at signing.
With Bridgewater in the building and no trade options, the Panthers officially cut ties with Newton, who is now the top free agent available, ahead of pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney, according to NFL.com.
Turning 31 in May, Newton enters a quarterback market flush with options and few starting chairs left. The Chicago Bears already traded for Nick Foles to compete with Mitchell Trubisky. The Los Angeles Chargers insist they’re rolling with Tyrod Taylor (and potentially a draft pick). New England recently signed veteran Brian Hoyer, potentially to compete with Jarrett Stidham for a starting job.
With the NFL’s current policy restricting player physicals, it could be difficult for Newton to find a home quickly.
When he is able to land on a squad, questions will linger about what type of quarterback that new team is getting. Is it the bulldozing force who whipped darts off his backfoot, was a menace on the ground and was the biggest red-zone threat in football? Or is it the injury-plagued player who struggled to make throws more than five yards out?
Newton’s journey in Carolina is over. Where he goes next is a question that could linger.