Kyle Allen has officially stolen Cam Newton’s job

Carolina Panthers

Cam Newton has been the face of the Panthers for years, but Kyle Allen has stepped in and stolen his job as Carolina’s starting quarterback. 

Four is the magic number for Kyle Allen. That’s exactly how many wins he’s needed to establish himself as the Panthers’ starting quarterback of the future. It may seem harsh to give up on Cam Newton due to injury, but there’s no way Ron Rivera and company can give up on Allen this season.

Carolina’s dominating win over the Buccaneers in London runs the team’s record to 4-2 on the year. Allen is 4-0 as the team’s starter and Newton is 0-2. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Allen is a better quarterback than Newton.

It does prove that a healthy Allen is better than a limited Newton. That can’t be disputed at this point. Even the most ardent Newton supporters in Carolina have to admit that Allen has been significantly better than the former Auburn star this season. It’s not a coincidence that the Panthers offense has hummed with Allen at the helm while it’s sputtered mightily with Newton limping around the field.

What isn’t crystal clear is what the Panthers should do when Newton recovers. There are cogent arguments to be made in favor of both Allen and Newton as the team’s quarterback of the future. It might be a painful move for Carolina to make, but the right call is to hand Allen the keys to the franchise moving forward.

Newton’s injury issues over the last two seasons are a big reason why the Panthers need to move on. He’s a dynamic player when he’s healthy, but availability is a big time skill in the NFL. Whether it’s a product of his style of play or his advancing age it’s clear that Newton can’t be trusted to survive a full 16-game slate at this point in his career. That makes paying him over $19 million next season a poor investment by the Panthers.

Given the fact that Newton will be heading into the last year of his contract in 2020, it’s also very likely that the Panthers would need to sign him to an extension to keep him happy moving forward. Making that kind of expensive, long-term commitment to an injury-riddled quarterback would be a massive gamble by GM Marty Hurney and company. Satisfying Allen’s contract demands coming off a two-year, $1.05 million deal should be a lot easier, cheaper and safer for the Panthers.

It’s not just an issue of health and finances for the franchise though. There are also solid football reasons for making the big sea change at the quarterback position. The Panthers have made a methodical, intentional change to their offensive personnel and system in recent years. Team officials have realized that the modern NFL requires talented skill players who can make plays after the catch. The Panthers have done a terrific job of assembling that kind of talent by drafting young, talented skill players like Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel.

That transition can best be maximized by Carolina employing a quarterback who can get the ball out of his hands quickly and accurately. That job description describes Allen perfectly. He’s shown a terrific ability to get the ball out of his hands on time this season. Perhaps more importantly, he’s yet to throw a single interception during the current season.

Over the long haul, the Panthers do need to be realistic about what sort of quarterback Allen can become. He doesn’t have the obscene upside that Newton offers the Carolina offense. At best, he can blossom into a Kirk Cousins or Alex Smith sort of passer. Allen is capable of executing a smart system at a high level, but he’s not the sort of transcendent talent who can elevate an entire roster. It’s unfair to call him a game manager, but the Panthers can’t put too much on his plate unless they want to risk seeing him get overwhelmed physically.

He has adequate arm strength and mobility, but isn’t exceptional in either area. Allen will be successful in comfortable offensive systems that rely on his ability to place the ball with exceptional accuracy to be successful. Fortunately for the Panthers, that’s just the type of team they’ve assembled for him in Carolina.

Next: NFL quarterback rankings: Philip Rivers really struggles

Parting with Newton is going to be painful for the Panthers, but it’s the right move to make. They have the chance to move forward with a cheaper, more reliable option that better fits their offense. It’s a meteoric rise for Allen, but it’s well deserved.

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