CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A tall, acquainted determine with a black towel draped over his head made his method by way of the Carolina Panthers locker room on Monday as reporters entered for media availability.
Quarterback Cam Newton went to his acquainted spot within the entrance nook of the room, slathered his 6-foot-5, 240-pound body with physique lotion, as he all the time does, after which wearing one in every of his signature outfits.
Then he disappeared by way of the locker room doorways, nearly as if the self-proclaimed “Superman” was strolling off into the sundown.
This may need been the final time reporters acquired to see Newton within the room he is commanded for a lot of the previous eight seasons. The Panthers positioned him on season-ending injured reserve on Tuesday as a result of the Lisfranc damage to Newton’s left foot has not responded to therapy.
For all the good issues he has performed over his profession — profitable NFL Offensive Rookie of the 12 months in 2011, being named NFL MVP in 2015, and redefining the league document ebook for operating quarterbacks — there are a lot of causes the Panthers probably will not deliver Newton again subsequent season.
Listed here are just a few:
Newton has one yr left on his contract. He is 30 years outdated, however contemplating he’s been hit much more occasions (1,235) than any quarterback within the league since 2011, Newton is a mere shell of the participant who outlined the dual-threat quarterback position within the NFL.
The Panthers would save $19.1 million on the 2020 wage cap by transferring on — slicing or buying and selling their star participant — from the five-year, $103.eight million deal Newton signed in 2015. They’d carry solely $2 million in useless cash.
In right this moment’s NFL, that is a sound monetary choice.
Newton’s present wage is a team-friendly deal for a high quarterback. However Newton, who has misplaced eight straight begins, isn’t a high quarterback.
Since shedding Tremendous Bowl 50 to Denver in his MVP season, Newton ranks 30th in Whole QBR (48.6), simply behind Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton and forward of Blake Bortles of the Los Angeles Rams. Dalton not too long ago was benched and Bortles is a backup.
Since Week 10 final season, based on ESPN Stats & Info, Newton’s Whole QBR is 33.2, which places him simply forward of Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill and Miami’s Josh Rosen.
Once more, not good firm.
Then there’s Newton’s bread and butter — operating. He had minus-2 yards on 5 carries within the first two video games this season. He rushed for greater than 33 yards in a recreation solely as soon as in his final 9 begins.
That’s not a profitable formulation for a participant whose 4,806 speeding yards rank third in NFL historical past for a quarterback.
And there are not any ensures he’ll bounce again utterly from the Lisfranc damage, which happens when bones in the midst of the foot are damaged or ligaments that assist the center of the foot are torn. It generally happens in soccer when a participant steps on one other participant’s foot, or when a cleat would not launch usually from the turf.
A Lisfranc damage sometimes requires surgical procedure, though surgical procedure beforehand wasn’t really useful by Panthers docs or different specialists Newton visited. So this could possibly be a difficulty that lingers.
Working again Christian McCaffrey, who had taken over because the crew “Superman” even earlier than Newton’s newest damage, will enter his fourth season in 2020 and sure will need a hefty extension with the MVP-caliber numbers he’s posting.
The Panthers produce other positions of want they’ll fill with the cash saved from Newton’s contract.
Exterior linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback James Bradberry head a protracted listing of starters who’re within the final yr of their offers and can demand large extensions.
Edge rushers Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin and defensive linemen Gerald McCoy, Vernon Butler and Kyle Love are also on that listing. Gamers in these positions don’t come low cost, though a lot of the gamers on this group are of their 30s.
Face of the franchise
McCaffrey on Sunday was the final participant to run onto the sphere throughout pregame introductions. That’s a spot usually reserved for Newton.
The eighth total decide of the 2017 draft, McCaffrey additionally held his postgame information convention behind the rostrum within the media room. With just a few exceptions, Newton had been the one participant to get that highlight after video games since 2011.
McCaffrey has changed Newton because the face of the group. No. 22 jerseys are beginning to seem within the stands and on the road greater than Newton’s No. 1. McCaffrey is on tempo to have greater than 2,400 yards from scrimmage and 26 touchdowns. He obtained chants of “MVP! MVP!” from the group on Sunday.
“I used to be chanting with them,” security Tre Boston mentioned. “It’s wonderful. This man is one thing we’ve by no means seen earlier than.”
Quarterback Kyle Allen mentioned it greatest: “[McCaffrey] is the guts and soul of our offense, coronary heart and soul of our crew.”
|Quarterback, crew||2019 season|
|Kyler Murray, Cardinals||3-5-1 document|
|Baker Mayfield, Browns||12 INTs (tied w/ Winston for many in NFL)|
|Jared Goff, Rams||Just one in group with profitable document|
|Jameis Winston, Bucs||10 turnovers in 2-game span|
|Cam Newton, Panthers||Positioned on IR (foot)|
|Matthew Stafford, Lions||3-4-1 document|
|Eli Manning, Giants||Benched|
|ESPN Stats & Info|
Allen is 5-1 this season because the starter and 6-1 total going again to final yr’s finale in opposition to New Orleans.
He manages Norv Turner’s offense effectively, having accomplished 60.7 % of his passes this season with 9 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.
Allen shrugged off his solely loss, a three-interception efficiency at San Francisco, to throw for 232 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday’s 30-20 victory over Tennessee.
He’s calm and sometimes doesn’t panic. He’s incomes respect within the locker room along with his management.
And with Newton on injured reserve, Allen not must reply questions on what would possibly occur when Newton returns. For the ultimate eight video games, he’ll get his audition to be the long-term starter because the Panthers vie for a playoff spot.
The long run
This is likely to be the simplest method for the Panthers to maneuver on from Newton, arguably the best participant in crew historical past, as a result of the damage benched him earlier than Father Time. The Giants weren’t as lucky with quarterback Eli Manning, one other former No. 1 total draft decide.
The Panthers had been all-in with Newton from the time they made him the highest decide in 2011. They constructed their offense round his dual-threat functionality, because the Baltimore Ravens are doing with quarterback Lamar Jackson
Newton as soon as performed like Jackson. Newton’s greatest weapon was his legs, which enabled him to run by way of, round and previous defenders like few different quarterbacks earlier than. He struck worry into the hearts of defensive coordinators and defenders who needed to put together for him.
“He’s one of many fiercest opponents I’ve been round throughout my 20-plus years within the league,” Carolina basic supervisor Marty Hurney mentioned Tuesday, when it was introduced Newton was happening IR.
That fierce spirit stays. Newton desires to play once more and show he can nonetheless be probably the greatest. That’s why he hid from coaches the severity of his damage earlier than the primary two video games. He needed to play — regardless.
Newton finally acknowledged the damage wouldn’t permit him to be himself.
“For therefore lengthy I performed this recreation a method,” Newton mentioned in a video posted on YouTube just a few weeks after he was shut down. “I performed this recreation the one method I understand how to play. And at this explicit time, that No. 1 that is on the market, that hasn’t been that very same individual.”
Newton would possibly by no means be the identical individual on the sphere.
In shutting Newton down, the Panthers did what was greatest to present him an opportunity to get again to being that individual. However now the most effective step for the Panthers probably means transferring on from him.