There comes a time in every football player’s career when they must face the harsh reality that their career is rapidly winding down. The Carolina Panthers and Cam Newton seem to be at this point, and it’s also time for us, as the NFL viewing public, to admit the same.
When Newton was released by the New England Patriots days before the season began, many people felt this was a mistake, regardless of the reason. Bill Belichick went with Mac Jones over Newton and is now looking like a genius because of it.
Cam missed time with New England last season due to COVID. When he returned, he wasn’t the same. His lackluster performance has now carried over into this year (once he was picked up mid-season) in Carolina.
Newton didn’t start that first game in Week 10, which was a win over the Cardinals. Cam was 3 of 4 passing for 8 yards, with a passing TD and a rushing TD. The following week Newton gave us another glimpse of old Cam going 21-for-27 for 189 yards and two TDs through the air, along with another rushing TD. Since then, over his last three games, Newton’s thrown just one TD and four INTs. During Week 12, Newton was 5-for-21 against the Dolphins with two INTs. That nostalgic feeling we all had when Cam first signed back on with the Panthers has now worn off. It’s time we all came to the realization that Cam can give you star-QB play in spurts at this point, but that’s about it.
The expectation for Newton needs to change as it should have while he was in New England. Many people pulled for Newton on the field once he returned, but after a five-game sample, I think we can see that the end is very close. I’m not saying Cam couldn’t be a backup somewhere, but it needs to be the right situation. I think the 2015 MVP would make a great backup, and he could even have specific packages where he comes in for a couple of plays here and there. Whether it’s for some type of wildcat formation or run-pass option package, I think something like that could work. And I don’t think he’d have a huge issue with being utilized in such a way.
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But the days of Newton passing for 225-plus yards per game and putting the offense on his back are long gone. This conversation will likely be had once the season is done in Carolina. If Newton does return to play another season, I feel it will be on another team. The Panthers are looking to build something, and are looking toward the future. I just don’t see Cam Newton being part of Carolina’s future on the field past this season.