One of the NFL offseason’s biggest stories surrounds the fate of Cam Newton.
Will the nine-year veteran remain in Carolina? Or will the 30-year-old be jettisoned for a Panthers reboot under new management?
Newton has one year remaining on his contract, but the Panthers would save the bulk of the $21.1 million he’s due against the cap if they trade or release him.
Cam Newton ‘absolutely’ believes he’ll be back
Newton spoke publicly and confidently about his fate on Friday in an interview with CBS Sports’ Brandon Tierney from Super Bowl radio row in Miami. He believes he’ll be back.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” Newton said when asked if he’ll be back in Carolina next season.
Why Panthers may move on
Of course, the decision isn’t Newton’s. It belongs to the Panthers and second-year owner David Tepper.
Tepper has already fired a Panthers mainstay in head coach Ron Rivera, who joined the team the same time Newton did as the No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft. Former Baylor coach Matt Rhule now runs the sideline in Charlotte.
Foot and shoulder injuries have limited Newton’s performance and availability the last two seasons as the wear and tear of his physical play appears to have taken a toll on his body.
The Panthers have their choice of quarterbacks at the No. 7 pick in April’s draft, whether it’s Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert or Utah State’s Jordan Love.
A lot of signs point to Carolina moving on.
Cam’s confidence sparked by meeting
Newton wasn’t just speaking of his own speculation. He said he felt confident after speaking with Tepper, Rhule and general manager Marty Hurney.
“I left that meeting inspired,” Newton said. “I told them you won’t find another person in that locker room with more to prove — not only to you, but to myself.”
Newton didn’t exactly describe a vote of confidence from Panthers management. And no matter how inspiring he was in that meeting, his job is to play quarterback, not be an inspirational speaker. Panthers management will make its evaluation based on the value it believes he brings as a football player regardless of his confidence.
But he did sound confident in himself as he faces a potential turning point in his career.
Whether that career continues in Carolina remains an open question.
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