Will the Panthers regret sticking with Cam Newton?

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers are rolling the dice with starting quarterback Cam Newton for at least another year. Will they end up regretting this decision?

Cam Newton will be with the Carolina Panthers in 2020.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, “A lot can still happen in the coming months, but as of now, the Panthers are moving forward with Cam Newton as their starting [quarterback].” Even though Newton’s rehab from a foot injury is going well, he won’t be game-ready for months, making it hard to get significant return from him on the trading block.

Carolina will bring back other great players in running back Christian McCaffrey and linebacker Shaq Thompson, so it’s not a complete rebuild down to the studs. But the question does remain if the Panthers are wise to roll with Newton for at least one more year.

Will they regret bringing him back into the fold or do the Panthers know exactly what they’re doing here?

The reasons to move off Newton this offseason made sense. There is a new coaching regime in place in Charlotte. Owner David Tepper fired longtime Panthers head coach Ron Rivera in favor of an elite collegiate program builder in Rhule, of Baylor and Temple notoriety. Newton only played in two games last season due to injury and will have to learn a new offense in 2020.

Rivera isn’t the only familiar face that’s gone. Carolina’s best player on defense in linebacker Luke Kuechly retired. Newton’s best receiving option in tight end Greg Olsen inked a deal to catch passes from Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks. Also, Carolina was arguably the worst team in football once Rivera was let go. The Panthers cratered all the way to the No. 7 overall pick.

In theory, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon’s Justin Herbert could have been (and might still be) drafted as Newton’s replacement. Heck, the Panthers may have been willing to give up the farm to land Brady’s former LSU Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick in a deal with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Even though this would have been perfect timing for a full-on reboot in Carolina, the Panthers will likely not regret this decision to keep Newton. He’s under contract through this season and won’t hit unrestricted free agency until 2021. Newton will be a $21.1 million cap hit if released this offseason. He’s the best quarterback in franchise history and deserves to play out his contract.

Carolina has plenty of holes on its roster besides quarterback. The Panthers are better served to take All-American defensive tackle Derrick Brown from Newton’s alma mater with the No. 7 pick than to draft their next star quarterback. If Newton bombs in Brady’s offense, the Panthers will be terrible and thus, in a great position to draft either Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields next spring.

Lawrence and Fields are better pro prospects than any quarterback in this year’s draft. Both grew up in the southeast in the Greater Atlanta area and Lawrence plays his college ball at nearby Clemson. Don’t think for a second he won’t be a superstar in Charlotte if drafted No. 1 overall by the Panthers in 2021.

But that’s assuming Newton’s best years are behind him. If he’s still got it, Carolina may not have to address the quarterback position for a few years. If he’s done, then he’s not their problem any more because he’ll be a free agent. A resurgent Newton could make the Panthers a surprisingly competitive team in 2020. Should he falter, Carolina is positioning itself to draft either Lawrence or Fields next spring. Carolina is making the right call.

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