The split marks the end of a nine-year run in Charlotte that saw Newton earn Rookie of the Year and MVP honors and lead the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance after the 2015 season.
Bridgewater’s arrival signaled Newton’s end
The Panthers reportedly agreed to a three-year, $63 million deal with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last week, signaling the end of Newton’s time with the team. That same day, the Panthers announced that they had given Newton permission to seek a trade.
Newton denied that he desired a trade and wrote on Instagram that the Panthers “forced” him into this.
More change under Tepper
The release of Newton is the latest and most significant step of an overhaul of the franchise under second-year owner David Tepper.
The Panthers fired longtime head coach Ron Rivera before last season was done. In January, they released veteran tight end Greg Olsen, who spent nine season with the Panthers in a span that included three Pro Bowl nods.
The team also lost defensive stalwart Luke Kuechly, who announced his surprise retirement in January after eight seasons, seven Pro Bowls and a Defensive Player of the Year award.
Now the Panthers are moving forward without the face of the franchise, a player who elevated the status of the team more than any other in its 25-year existence. Newton made an immediate impact on the Panthers and the NFL after being selected as the No. 1 overall pick out of Auburn in 2011, leading a new wave of mobile, athletic quarterbacks.
Can Cam stage a career comeback?
Ironically, his ability and will to run may have ultimately spelled his demise in Charlotte. Shoulder and foot injuries hindered his ability and availability over the past two seasons as the wear and tear of his brand of football took its toll.
At 30 years old, the 2015 MVP presents plenty of upside for a team willing to take a chance that he can return to form after back-to-back injury-riddled seasons.
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