The Carolina Panthers are expected to release quarterback Cam Newton, according to a person familiar with the situation.
The move could come as soon as Tuesday and would make the former league MVP a free agent. The Panthers had already moved to replace Newton earlier this month, striking a deal with free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who had success last season in New Orleans as the Saints’ fill-in starter while Drew Brees was injured.
Attempts by the Panthers to trade Newton this offseason failed. The Chicago Bears appeared interested but traded for Nick Foles instead. There was speculation the Los Angeles Chargers were interested in the 2015 MVP and could remain a potential landing spot now that he’s a free agent. But they could stand pat and go with Tyrod Taylor as their starter instead.
The New England Patriots could have a need a quarterback after Tom Brady’s free agent departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the Patriots have a tight salary cap situation and just added Brian Hoyer to go with Jarrett Stidham and Cody Kessler. A person familiar with the Patriots’ planning said the Hoyer move likely left the team done at quarterback, but left open the possibility that could change.
There had been speculation about Newton reuniting in Washington with Ron Rivera, the newly hired coach of the Redskins who previously coached Newton in Carolina. But the Redskins traded for Kyle Allen, who took over as the Panthers’ starter last season while Newton was sidelined by a foot injury, to team with Dwayne Haskins.
Newton’s situation is complicated by the coronavirus-related travel restrictions placed on players and teams by the NFL. Players are not permitted to travel to meet with teams or undergo physicals. Teams are not permitted to travel to meet with players.
The NFL Physicians Society just informed the league and the NFL Players Association that its members no longer would conduct physicals, with the novel coronavirus pandemic stretching medical resources. But teams still are permitted by the league to arrange for a free agent or traded player to undergo a physical by a third-party doctor in the player’s hometown or nearby. According to a person familiar with the situation, most of those third-party doctors conducting such physicals are orthopedists who don’t have offices in hospitals affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Even so, interested teams might be wary of moving forward with Newton without their own medical staffs involved. Newton underwent two shoulder surgeries in recent years and missed almost all of last season due to the foot injury.
He was the top overall selection in the 2011 NFL draft by the Panthers and was the league’s MVP when he led Carolina to a 15-1 regular season record and a 2016 Super Bowl appearance. Newton, who turns 31 in May, has thrown for 29,041 yards and 182 touchdowns with 108 interceptions in nine seasons with the Panthers. He also was a rugged runner whose dual-purpose abilities helped to redefine how quarterback is played in the modern NFL.
He was selected to three Pro Bowls and was the league’s offensive rookie of the year in 2011. The Panthers, though, are retooling their roster with the arrival of their new coach, Matt Rhule. Bridgewater is familiar with the system of Rhule’s offensive coordinator, Joe Brady, formerly a Saints assistant before his highly successful stint at LSU working with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow.