Nearly eight weeks after he last played in a game, Cam Newton saw his 2019 season officially come to an end. The Carolina Panthers placed Newton on injured reserve this week, ending any hope of him returning before the end of the season. For Newton, it’s an early end to what has no doubt been an endlessly frustrating season, one that calls into his question his future with the Panthers and his future as an NFL quarterback.
The ordeal started when Newton suffered a Lisfranc injury to his foot during a preseason game. He re-aggravated the injury during the team’s Week 2 loss to the Buccaneers and hasn’t played since.
There was never a firm timetable on his return, but a program of rest and rehab did little to heal the injury and get Newton anywhere close to returning to the field. After seeing a second foot specialist last week, the Panthers decided that it was appropriate to shut down Newton for the rest of the season.
Health questions surrounded Newton heading into the season after he missed the last two games of the 2018 season amidst continued shoulder problems. Those shoulder issues plagued him throughout 2018, making it obvious that he wasn’t the same quarterback who won MVP honors in 2015.
After offseason shoulder surgery, Newton pronounced himself healthy and was eager to prove that he was still the same quarterback. However, the foot injury he suffered during the preseason made it impossible for Newton to prove himself, ultimately sentencing him to a lost season.
Absorbing The Loss
In his absence, the Panthers haven’t just survived, they have thrived. Carolina was 0-2 in the games Newton started before being sidelined by the injury. However, the Panthers have been 5-1 since Kyle Allen took over as the team’s starter.
In fairness, most of the credit belongs to running back Christian McCaffrey, who is a legitimate MVP candidate. But Allen deserves a fair amount of credit for the team’s success, proving that he can play winning football in the NFL.
With the team succeeding without him and Newton approaching the end of his contract, his future in Carolina could be in jeopardy. It might be too soon to say that the torch has been passed to Allen, but it’s not out of the question if the Panthers continue to win games and have the young quarterback lead them to the playoffs.
If that happens, Carolina would at least have to consider moving on from Newton and taking their chances with Allen moving forward.
Newton has just one year left on his contract. The Panthers would save over $19 million in cap space if they were to part ways with the 30-year-old quarterback after the season. If the Panthers think they can have just as much success with Allen as with Newton, there’s a distinct chance they could choose to cut ties with their franchise quarterback, forcing Newton to say goodbye to the only NFL team he’s ever known.
Surely, another team out there would be willing to take a chance on Newton. But with back-to-back seasons ending early because of injury, especially a shoulder problem for a quarterback and a foot issue for a quarterback who relies on his mobility, there are serious question marks about how good Newton will be when he returns to the field, whether it be with Carolina or another team.
Given the injuries, the odds are stacked against Newton ever being a top-flight quarterback again, as this lost season has put his career at a crossroads.