Three Reasons Why Carolina Should Retain Cam Newton
As the 2019 season approached, the Carolina Panthers were hopeful to find themselves back in the playoffs after a disappointing 2018 season. Franchise quarterback and former NFL MVP, Cam Newton was forced to miss the final two games of the season due to a shoulder injury.
Then Panthers head coach Ron Rivera spoke about the decision to shut Newton down for the season. "It was a very good conversation with Cam," said Rivera. "He understood and understood our thinking behind this. He's disappointed. He's frustrated. He wants to play. This is one of those things that we just had a great conversation. He understands going forward."
For anyone that follows the Panthers or the NFL closely knows how competitive Newton is and how frustrating these past two years have been. First dealing with a shoulder injury, then a nagging foot sprain that sidelined him for much of the 2019 campaign. Yes, the 30-year-old quarterback is potentially regressing, has health concerns and is owed a base salary of $18.6 million in 2020, but there are many reasons as to why the Panthers should keep him in their cupboard.
1. Depth/Talent in Quarterback Room
Behind Cam Newton are two extremely young quarterbacks that aren’t quite ready to take over as the full time starter.
Kyle Allen has looked capable at times, but he’s not a guy that will get you to the playoffs and may struggle to get you over a .500 record. He has the mold of a longtime NFL backup, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. During his 12 starts for Carolina this past season, he threw for 3,322 yards for 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions with a completion rate of 62%. The elephant in the room here is the turnovers. It’s what ultimately cost him the job at the end of the season and turning the keys over to rookie quarterback Will Grier.
So, now that I’ve mentioned Grier, could he be the guy of the future in Charlotte? Maybe, but it’s way too early to tell. The timing of Grier’s first start wasn’t necessarily the greatest. Many Panthers fans don’t seem enamored with the idea of him being the future, but it wasn’t a fair evaluation. Just ask former Panther tight end Greg Olsen. “He was thrown into an impossible situation. Two games left in a season where there’s been countless issues and now throw him out there and play incompetent football around him - it’s impossible to get any sort of judgement,” Olsen said. There’s failures all around him, failures leading up to it, so I hope no one passes any judgement on Will’s ability as a player in the future going forward.
It’s hard to disagree with Olsen and one and a half games shouldn’t close the book on the thought of him being a starter. Is he ready right this second? No.
2. One Year, New Coach
As previously mentioned, Newton only has one year remaining on his current deal. With Matt Rhule’s track record of developing talent, it’s worth seeing what happens putting these two together and re-evaluate the situation mid-season. There are a lot of question marks surrounding Matt Rhule as a first time NFL head coach, but he got the job for a reason. If he is able to get more out of Newton or gets him back to the level he was previously playing at, now you’re talking about a playoff team. There is an abundance of talent on this roster, yes pieces of it have left, but it still has the opportunity to make a run at the division crown with uncertainty surrounding the future of Drew Brees in New Orleans.
3. Draft Position, Future Draft, Other Needs
The Panthers hold the 7th overall pick in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft and while they can take someone like a Justin Herbert, they are better suited taking a defensive lineman such as Derrick Brown (Auburn) or Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina). Should the wheels fall off the proverbial wagon in 2020, you could be in great position to draft the coveted Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson.
If Cam Newton returns to form, you need other pieces to make the boat row. Spending a first round pick on a quarterback just isn’t ideal for the team’s current state. However, I would expect they entertain the thought of potentially taking one in the later rounds, yet with Carolina only one year removed from taking Will Grier in the third round, you may want to see a bigger sample size before using up another pick on a position that only one man can play at a time.
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