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The Panthers apparently will move on from Cam Newton, one of the best players in team history. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Shabby treatment by Panthers puts Cam Newton in terrible position

Arguments listing Steve Smith and Luke Kuechly as the most productive players in Panthers history make sense, but Cam Newton is the most important player in the team's 25-year run. That status makes what looks set to happen worse.

The Panthers’ statement Tuesdaynb游戏平台 about giving Newton permission to seek a trade all but ends a memorable chapter for the franchise. The new Panthers power structure's about-face on Newton, and the former MVP’s understandable reaction disputing the team’s version of this development, probably ensures this will be an ugly divorce.

nb游戏平台Newton deserves better, and events outside of his control may make this one of the more unusual departures in NFL history.

Two injury-hijacked seasons sidetracked Newton’s career, but even after the December foot surgery from which he’s currently rehabbing, the 30-year-old passer would possess strong trade value in a normal offseason. Newton has one year remaining on an outdated quarterback contract. But the 2020 offseason presents a bad situation for the rehabbing quarterback. It could make a near-future resurgence unrealistic.

Even with the rest of the American sports world at an unprecedented standstill, the NFL’s first two days of de facto free agency did not unfold much differently than usual. But the league will soon encounter what the NBA, NHL and MLB have. The NFL will not be the same for months, and the changes will severely impact certain players. Newton resides near the top of that list.

The COVID-19 pandemic shut down teams’ facilities; free agents are not permitted visits. That disproportionately affects the second- and third-tier UFAs, along with players coming off injuries. Even if it means sports media received much-needed content, the NFL starting free agency during this crisis -- and not delaying it like it did amid the 2011 lockout -- will cause problems. The NFL postponed the OTA sessions that take place each April and May, and considering and MLB timetables, it is certainly possible that no team workouts will take place until training camps in late July.

nb游戏平台Without teams' respective medical staffs having the ability to examine players with injury questions, many of the markets for these talents will be impacted. For a team to trade assets for Newton –- who for several months –- and take on his $18.6 million salary, it would need the green light from its medical personnel. If/when he is released, Newton carries injury baggage that would presumably necessitate a free-agency visit. That may not be possible for months, thus pausing the three-time Pro Bowler's career at a bad time. 

If no team trades for Newton, the player who was the consensus front-runner to become the face of the NFL not too long ago may be stuck in free agency for the foreseeable future. The coronavirus preventing NFL staffs from reconvening could make Newton watch would-have-been suitors finalize quarterback depth charts via the draft. Locating paths to starting jobs or even low-end QB1 money becomes difficult after that point.

The Panthers could not have predicted how pervasive the coronavirus would be, but their offseason actions have been less than ideal. New head coach Matt Rhule said barely three weeks ago he wanted Newton , and while that could have been code for “make better trade offers,” it marks a rather notable turn to then pivot away from the most popular player in franchise history so soon. The Panthers stringing Newton along, as other quarterbacks secured starting roles elsewhere, does not look great for Rhule or second-year owner David Tepper.

Carolina giving Teddy Bridgewater a $21 million-per-year deal, making him the highest-paid quarterback in team history, looks strange for a franchise clearly trying to rebuild. Bridgewater, whose conservative style depicts him as a high-floor/low-ceiling combination, may play well enough for the Panthers to finish outside the Trevor Lawrence-Justin Fields draft slots in 2021 while simultaneously keeping them off the contender tier. Being patient with Newton, while adding a lower-profile insurance option, would make more sense for a coach with a seven-year contract than an abrupt move to aim for middle-class status.

nb游戏平台None of this helps Newton. While he is unlikely to re-enter the stratospheric realm he populated in 2015, given that his QBR from 2016-19 ranked 30th, he is young enough that good football could still lie ahead. His efficient 2018 work with offensive coordinator Norv Turner, when the Panthers started 6-2, showed that. 

But being caught in this position diminishes Newton’s potential to recapture a reasonable imitation of his previous form. Given the disadvantages Newton will battle this offseason thanks to the coronavirus’ impact, he also may face an uphill battle to command a franchise-quarterback-level contract next year.

Newton picked a historically bad time to play through an injury. Had the ex-Heisman winner not tried to power through a Lisfranc injury last September, an earlier surgery would have made him a better trade asset and given him the chance to secure a starting job.

In a sport without guaranteed contracts, many players obviously endure unfortunate endings. But the Panthers were never more relevant than when Newton was operating at his peak. For a player who has contributed what Newton has to a franchise, him being thrust into such a bizarrely detrimental circumstance may well double as one of the most bitter separations in modern NFL history. And it may well alter the career of one of this era's highest-profile stars.

Sam Robinson is a Kansas City, Mo.-based writer who mostly writes about the NFL. He has covered sports for nearly 10 years. Boxing, the Royals and Pandora stations featuring female rock protagonists are some of his go-tos. Occasionally interesting tweets .


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