The Real Reason Why the Panthers "Gave Up" on Cam Newton

Schuyler Callihan

Just a short four years ago, the Carolina Panthers were suiting up for Super Bowl 50 vs the Denver Broncos led by the NFL's MVP, Cam Newton. The Panthers fell 24-10, which put a damper on the team's 15-1 regular season.

Since the Panthers Super Bowl 50 loss, things have not been the same and quite frankly, the bottom fell out. The team has gone 29-35 since and has failed to reach the postseason three out of the last four seasons. Things were spiraling out of control and even though Newton had back-to-back season-ending injuries, the team failed to reach expectations or even come near those expectations. There was a need for change. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome- we've all heard that phrase before. The Panthers weren't doing anything different. They weren't adding quality players to the roster to surround Newton on the offensive side and defensively failed to add a legitimate pass rusher until this past season when they brought in Bruce Irvin for one season - a lost season.

No disrespect to Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin, Jerricho Cotchery, Brandon LaFell, Legedu Naanee or any others, but they weren't necessarily a huge threat that Newton had to his disposal. In fact, really the only impactful move the Panthers made during his tenure  was draft running back Christian McCaffrey out of Stanford in 2017. Since the front office has decided to move on from Newton they have added wide receiver Robby Anderson via free agency from the Jets, giving the offense a third weapon in the passing game and acquired offensive tackle Russell Okung from the Chargers. Newton took a beating during his time in Carolina and was never truly protected at any point of his tenure. 

Rewinding this thing all the way back to early December, Ron Rivera was informed that he would be relieved of his duties as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers and at this point, the writing was on the wall. It was just a matter of time before the team finally moved on from Newton. Rumors had been swirling all season long since the moment Newton went down with a Lisfranc injury and it seemed all but certain that his time in Charlotte was officially over with. 

That, however, is not how things panned out. Instead of Carolina informing him immediately after the end of the season, which would have allowed Newton to have an opportunity to sign somewhere to be a starter, the Panthers had a drawn out process. They gave not only him, but the fan base false hope that the relationship would be amended and a new deal could be a possibility. Then, once Matt Rhule was hired, there was growing belief that Newton would indeed stick around in Carolina, especially with Joe Brady coming to the organization as the team's new offensive coordinator. It had the feeling that for the first time in Newton's career, he was going to get some weapons, protection, and a young, offensive guru that could relate to him. The excitement was building all the way up until the NFL Combine in Indianapolis in February. Once again, Panthers team owner David Tepper teased the fans and Newton by stating that their current plan was to "move forward" with Newton. "Move forward" not "move on". Not even a full month later, the team came out with announcement saying that they would grant Newton and his agent permission to seek a trade - one that Newton did not ask for, ever. 

This whole saga felt like a really bad high school breakup. One called out the other on social media saying they wanted to leave, the other half (Newton) said that's not true, that's not what happened and made the other (the front office) look really bad. 

Newton has made several posts on Instagram throughout the breakup including ones that show him saying "no loyalty" and "they gave up on me". Again, like a bad breakup. But who can blame Newton? This was his franchise and he turned the Panthers not only into contenders, but took them from being a mediocre team to heights that have never been seen in Charlotte. He won Rookie of the Year, the MVP in 2015, and guided the Panthers to their second-ever Super Bowl appearance. Not only has he been great on the field, but he was terrific with the fans and doing great humanitarian things in the community by raising an immense amount of money over the years, including his most prized project - the Cam Newton Foundation. This year, Newton won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his incredible dedication in community service, raising well over $5 million dollars since 2012. 

After all that Cam had done for not only the organization, but the city of Charlotte and the surrounding areas, one would think that the Panthers would have helped his transition to a new team become a little easier. Instead, Newton is currently without a job and is watching the days pass by as there are hardly any teams that are in dire need of a quarterback. Had the Panthers attempted to trade Newton at the conclusion of the 2019 season, two things would have happened: 1. They would have found a suitor and would have received something in return, instead of being forced to release him. 2. Helping him begin a new chapter with another team without all of the drama would have made the front office's efforts look much better. Now, the fan base is ticked that the face of the franchise is no longer in a Panther uniform and even worse, was treated poorly throughout his departure. This is certainly something that will not sit well with the fans for years to come and the only cure for it to go away? Winning.

Despite, the front office clearly mishandling the entire Newton situation, the question that keeps getting asked is: Why did they choose to do it and why now?

First and foremost, injuries were a huge concern for the Tepper and GM Marty Hurney. Anytime you have a quarterback that likes to tuck it and run on occasion has to be protected at all costs. The Panthers failed miserably at doing just that and is a huge reason why they are parting ways. Carolina will need to rebuild the offensive line before they see the next "face of the franchise" come along. For Carolina, it just wasn't feasible to upgrade the line. Cap space was limited this offseason and they also lead the NFL in dead money (money that is being paid out to players who are no longer on the roster). 

Not only did the Panthers fear Cam's health and have limited cap space, but the signs were being flashed around them everywhere they looked. It was the perfect time for the organization to start over. Greg Olsen decided his time in Carolina was up and left for a one-year deal with Seattle, Luke Kuechly retired, Ron Rivera was hired by Washington and the only part left of the old regime was Cam Newton. The team was preparing for a rebuild and a player like Newton, who is in what would be considered his "prime", is looking for a situation to win games. Dumping a ton of money to an injury-plagued Newton during a rebuild just doesn't seem like a recipe for success. All great things must come to an end someday and although moving on from Newton was the right decision, how it was handled was not.

So, I'll re-ask the question. What was the real reason for the Panthers "giving up" on Cam Newton? Money. At the end of the day, it all came down to having money and when you have limited cap space and question marks surrounding a player's health, you typically don't give them a huge pay day, no matter how much they have done for your organization.

However, here is a question that I will leave you with. Had Cam Newton defeated the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50, do you think he would still be in Carolina? 

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Comments (29)
No. 1-19
Cacy
Cacy

Good riddance

Jwillbrown7
Jwillbrown7

“This year, Newton won the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his incredible dedication in community service, raising well over $5 million dollars since 2012.”

He did not win the Walter Peyton award. He won the charity competition, a separate challenge.

CarolinaPantherFan
CarolinaPantherFan

There is no conspiracy story. The front office was trying to assess Cams recovery from two shoulder surgeries and a major foot surgery. They gave it as long as they could which appears to be too long for some of you. When they ultimately realized that he’s never going to be the same Cam Newton they let him go. If they honestly felt he was going to be the best option they would keep him. There is a reason that no other team in the NFL is signing him. Think about it. It doesn’t matter whether you love cam or hate him the Panthers are about putting the best product on the field and right now Cam Newton is not it

Ddgreensboro
Ddgreensboro

Correction to the article, Cam Newton did not win the Walter Peyton Man of the Year (most recently it was Calais Campbell). QB1 won the Nationwide WPMoY Charity Challenge.

Littlebabystiffarm
Littlebabystiffarm

I think at the end of the day the front office felt like a lot of fans do towards Cam- like he was a sore loser, immature, and wasn’t presenting an image at the podium that Tepper and Co. could get behind. I think Cam was misunderstood from a sportsmanship perspective.

Cam is an ultra competitive QB and wears his emotions on his sleeve. For example when they were winning all those games on their SB run that locker room was an A+-nothing but smiles, super man gestures, and team touchdown poses. It’s not easy to be have that type of competitive drive and winning mentality and be stuck on the shelf with injury for two straight seasons and I personally believe Cam has handled it okay. Heck, look at Luck; Cam has had just as bad of an injury run if not worse. Cam is an elite QB in the prime of his career but most of all he’s an excellent leader and win at any cost attitude. Letting him go and not building around him was a huge mistake.

ScottS130
ScottS130

Glad he is gone. Terrible sportsmanship, don't like a sore loser don't care how good you are. Time to move on.

Expantherfan
Expantherfan

Screw the Panthers. No loyalty

Pshinn01
Pshinn01

So, we lost the Super Bowl then Cam sulked and embarrassed himself and the team. You're in a different league than college football, time to grow up and accept defeat when it happens. The Patriots haven't won every year in recent history but they didn't pout.

Mikelop
Mikelop

Oh common. Cam had his chances. What 9 years. It was a pretty good run. He just is not a top 10 qb. Hes likeable but his immaturity is glaring on the field. Hope he can manage a couple more good years some where.
Let's give teddy a shot now and draft a good one now. Let's move on.

DirtySanchise
DirtySanchise

In regards to the offensive line being the issue for Cam, in 2018 our line ranked 10th in pass protection. The reason he’s taken 1,235 hits in his career isn’t just an offensive line issue, it’s because he’s ran the ball 934 times. The longevity of QB’s in the NFL is to avoid hits, and while his dual threat ability is what made him the NFL MVP, we as Panthers fans knew the shelf life wasn’t lengthy.

I agree we have been aggressive this offseason in getting weapons at WR, but to say we went out and bolstered the line by adding Okung is cherry picking facts when you omit that we gave up Trai Turner in that deal.

I think we didn’t do Cam any favors in the way the front office handled the situation, but it was the right call to move on at this point. I’ll always be thankful that Newton gave Carolina a national presence which we never had prior to him coming but it was time for a change.

Sleepy ninja
Sleepy ninja

I'm a huge Cam Newton fan and he did do a lot for the organization no he wasn't honest about his injuries and he should have spoke up on that and I can understand why the organization felt the way they felt at the end because he wasn't up front about that he put himself at risk and he put the team at risk but Cam's got a lot of football left I think he needs to take a year get completely healthy re-evaluate himself refocus himself on football cuz I I think that was a huge problem with us after we went to the Superbowl he wasn't focused on football anymore not like you should have been what people fail to realize we had a lot of key injuries they didn't help Cam Newton either Greg Olsen was hurt Luke Kuechly was hurt Curtis Samuel couldn't stay healthy Carolina's offensive line was suspect the whole time we had Cam . To say Teddy Bridgewater is an upgrade over cam I can't say that Cam's healthy there's no one like him there was some things that Teddy Bridgewater did really well in New Orleans but what people fail to realize was New Orleans had a better offensive line to protect him and maybe a struggle for him in Carolina so we still have no offensive line we have a first-year head coach that never won a national title nor Big 12 title he's proven that he can revamp a program but hasn't proven that he can win the big Hardware (National Title Big 12 title) I have a feeling it's going to be a rough four years for us

BigRed67
BigRed67

Better answer is Trust (or lack thereof). I don't think Cam has been candid about his injuries and limitations in the past (particularly this past season's foot injury), and as a result, he left his team in the lurch. I think this pissed off Tepper. Although I didn't like the way the Front Office sent him packing, I think it stinks in the same way that Cam has done them in the past (i.e. string them along thinking that everything is going to be Ok, instead of being honest about the situation).

$cam Newton
$cam Newton

I have been a panthers fan since Christmas of '93 when 3 of my cousins showed up at our family get together wearing Panthers gray sweatshirts. We asked what is that and they said "our new NFL team we are getting in a few years." So, this is my opinion and you can reply with whatever crap you will say about me not being a fan or hating Cam or whatever b/c I don't care. Cam Newton ain't nothing and never will be nothing. His first game he ran one his first few plays and then we were thinking, this guy maybe for real. But, let's see how he passes. Well, like crap. So right in the first game, I was not impressed. He sulks on the sideline. He is not a leader. All he wants is attention. That is why he gives balls to kids...just to look good. He is not a team player. I don't care what he did for the community...on the field he is nothing. I have NEVER seen any player not dive on a ball like he did in the SB and then lay on his back on the sidelines and cry. Everyone knew he was going to be let go. With all the new changes and coaches and players leaving...you knew he was gone. I love the comment in this article about how He made them contenders? They have never had back to back winning seasons? And one of the years they won the NFC South, they were 7-9...how is that contenders? And they went to the SB in 2002 or 2003 and lost with him not being a player and at least the game and score was closer. I'll never forget; about 4 years ago, my wife and I flew from Charlotte to Salt Lake City. We got a connecting flight in Dallas and ended up having the same flight crew as we did in Charlotte. I had a Panthers shirt on and one of the flight attendants said "aren't you the team with the cry baby qb?" No one likes the Panthers outside the Carolina's and it's b/c of Newton's look at me, selfish bs. So for the real fans, this is a great time. TB I don't think will be the long term fit and I think we will draft a qb at #7 but he is an upgrade over Cam. Cam will not play starter for anyone and even if they let him go months ago, no one would still take a chance on him. "If" he does ever play again, he will get hurt or play like crap.

Theronimo
Theronimo

Carolina will be in last place for a while.

Panther Blue
Panther Blue

You bet, I truly believe in cam, they never once protected him the guy got his brains beat out and he never complained. There is going to be some little kid's really pissed off when they don't have a chance to get a game ball.

Enstyle
Enstyle

I always said that about losing SB 50.
It was fixed for Peyton Manning. Cam played off and it didn't look real! Now he's being kicked to the curb! NFL Front office may have had their say in him being fired! Something feels off! If he's not picked up i will be done with the NFL.

JakeDelhomme17
JakeDelhomme17

A) Greg Olsen was also treated poorly and ran out of Carolina.
B) Carolina is paying Teddy Bridgewater more than they were paying Newton.
C) Super Bowl 50 was fixed so that Manning could retire with a Super Bowl win.
D) Kuechly saw the writing on the wall and only retired because he did not want to be a part of the new team, or so many fans believe.
E) The team did Olsen very wrong, like A) states. When Cam Newton posted how the team did him wrong, Olsen commented on it and said, "sounds familiar." Olsen wanted to stay in Carolina.

Michellepegram1
Michellepegram1

What and how Carolina handed The Cam Newton situation was foul but R we really that shocked, Owners don’t give a rats ass about these players, personally, if U don’t believe that by now then U just ain’t paying attention. 😳.

Cacy
Cacy

If ifs and ands were pots and pans...Cam is injured. That’s why he is not valuable to the Panthers. He is also such a poor sport; why would they want him?


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