While the Panthers attempted to deal Newton to the Bears and Chargers, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, they could not find a taker. Newton had one season remaining on a deal he signed back in 2015. He was set to earn $18.6M in 2020 base salary; Carolina will take on just $2M in dead money for releasing Newton. The Bears subsequently traded for Nick Foles instead, and the Chargers appear focused on the draft. After pursuing Tom Brady, the Bolts no longer intend to add a veteran quarterback.
This had been the expected outcome, given the unique complications this offseason presents for the Panthers executing a Newton trade. This will end a nine-year run for Newton in Charlotte. The move also comes less than a month after Matt Rhule indicated he wanted to keep Newton for the 2020 season. Carolina moved swiftly in another direction after that pronouncement.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2011, Newton fairly quickly solidified himself as the best quarterback in Panthers history. He helped them to four playoff berths in a five-season span and piloted them to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. However, injuries intervened in the late 2010s and will lead him to the open market for the first time.
Newton, 30, is recovering from Lisfanc surgery in December. The dual-threat passer has not been fully healthy since early in the 2018 season, when he suffered a shoulder injury. Newton is not expected to be game-ready for months.
Considering the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has made to this NFL offseason, Newton could be in limbo. Teams are not permitted to host free agents on visits, and while third-party doctors can still examine players, any team signing off on a Newton contract would probably want to put its medical staff to work on the injury-prone passer.
Because of this strange scenario, the Panthers were able to pry a fifth-rounder from the Redskins for Kyle Allen on Monday and will be forced to release Newton. Carolina’s quarterback depth chart now sits at Teddy Bridgewater–P.J. Walker–Will Grier. The Panthers officially signed Walker on Tuesday morning.
Newton had regressed considerably since the Panthers’ Super Bowl 50 loss, ranking 30th in QBR since 2016, but the nine-year veteran certainly would have brought back a trade package of some sort in a normal NFL offseason. The former Heisman winner now must continue his rehab on his own and do so in one of the most uncertain times to go about a rehab effort. The NFL may well end up canceling all offseason activities due to conoravirus-related uncertainty, so it might be difficult for Newton to land a noteworthy contract for the 2020 season.
Carolina will soon have parted ways with Newton, Greg Olsen, Luke Kuechly, Trai Turner and Mario Addison this offseason. Rhule’s team will certainly look different when the Panthers are permitted to reconvene under their new coach.
— YARD BARKER