Panthers release former MVP Cam Newton after failing to find suitors

Guardian sport
The Guardian
<span>Photograph: Ben Margot/AP</span>
Photograph: Ben Margot/AP

The Carolina Panthers released quarterback Cam Newton, the man who led them to Super Bowl 50, on Tuesday.

The decision ends Newton’s nine-year career with the Panthers. Carolina chose him as the No1 overall pick in the 2011 draft and he was named the 2015 NFL MVP, the season the Panthers reached the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Denver Broncos. At his best, Newton’s strong arm and skills as a runner made him a formidable player but he has struggled with shoulder and foot injuries in recent seasons.

Earlier this month the Panthers said they have given the 30-year-old permission to seek a trade but he replied on social media that he had not asked for one. “Stop the word play!!” Newton wrote in an Instagram comment. “I never asked for it!! There is no dodging this one; I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this: You forced me into this.”

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When the Panthers signed free agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater last week, it was clear Newton’s career with the team was all but over. The Panthers also traded back-up quarterback Kyle Allen to Washington this week and brought in PJ Walker from the XFL.

ESPN’s Ian Rapoport reported that the Panthers attempted to trade Newton to the Chicago Bears or Los Angeles Chargers but there was no interest. The lack of interest is unsurprising given Newton’s injury history and the fact that NFL doctors are not conducting physicals during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Right now, he’s worth nothing until such time as people can work him out and give him a physical – their own doctors give him a physical and then work him out,” former Bills, Panthers and Colts general manager Bill Polian told ESPN. “It’s unfortunate. He’s got to prove he’s healthy for a number of reasons, and right now he can’t do that, for a number of reasons.”

Newton’s teammate Christian McCaffery paid tribute to the quarterback in an Instagram post on Tuesday. “You changed the way I approach the game and put the fun back in it for me. I’ll always owe you for that. I speak for the Carolinas when I say thank you for all memories and smiles you brought us,” the running back wrote.

The Panthers have already lost two other key members of their Super Bowl 50 team. Luke Kuechly retired in January at the age of 28, while Greg Olsen joined the Seattle Seahawks last month.

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