Last year, the Panthers made the tough decision of releasing their face of the franchise, Cam Newton after having no luck finding a trade partner for him.
Newton had been dealing with a few injuries over his final two seasons in Carolina including a Grade 1 knee strain and a shoulder injury in 2018 while missing the majority of the 2019 season with a Pedal Linsfranc Strain. Those injuries put the Panthers in a tough spot and it ultimately led to his release.
"We really respected Cam, and we still do, obviously. And I wish him the best possible up in New England," team owner David Tepper said. "The problem with COVID and such and not knowing what was going on, it put us in a very difficult position at his salary, quite frankly. And we made the best possible decision we could given the circumstances."
One day before the Panthers officially released the former NFL MVP, Newton, they had agreed to a three-year, $63 million contract with free agent QB Teddy Bridgewater. Unfortunately, Bridgewater underperformed and was traded to the Broncos a couple of weeks ago after just one year into his deal. Hindsight is 20/20 and if Tepper or former general manager Marty Hurney could get a redo at last offseason, they probably wouldn't have signed Bridgewater or if they did, they would've done so on a much cheaper contract.
The fact that the team decided to wait until late March to release Newton did not sit well with the fanbase nor Newton. It really depleted his market in free agency as most teams had already made their QB decisions in the first wave of free agency. It felt as if they knew they were going to move on from Newton towards the end of the 2019 season, so they should have begun exploring trades much earlier.
In early July, Newton finally landed with the New England Patriots on an extremely cheap one-year "prove it" deal. It was not the season Newton nor the Patriots envisioned but to their defense, they did have a large number of players opt out of the 2020 season (COVID-19 concerns). Newton actually missed a game due to COVID and did not perform at the same level once he returned. The Patriots finished the season with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. In 15 starts for the Patriots, Newton tossed for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and ten interceptions while also rushing for 592 yards and 12 scores.
We've known for a while now that Carolina would be welcoming Newton back to Charlotte but the date had not been set. On Wednesday, the NFL released the schedule for all 32 teams which unveiled that Newton and the Patriots will make the trek to the Queen City for a Week 9 matchup with the Panthers - the 1st game Newton will play at Bank of America Stadium, not as a member of the Carolina Panthers.
Panthers vs Patriots | November 7th | 1 p.m. | CBS
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