What Does the Future Look Like For Cam Newton?

Before Cam Newton, the Carolina Panthers were little more than a wringer expansion team. The versatile red-zone running quarterback, former Heisman winner and MVP has propelled the Panthers into a new, mostly successful era. Ten years into his career with Carolina, Newton is reaching a critical point in his career.

Since week two of the 2019 season, Kyle Allen has been the man behind center for Carolina — and he is winning. It's a nerve-wracking situation for any franchise quarterback, and with budgetary implications looming, the Panther's organization will be forced to make a difficult decision.

Carolina's Finest

Cam Newton is the most important player in the Panther's 25-year history, without question. Winner of the Heisman Trophy and AP College Football Player of the Year award, among several other accolades, Newton was able to take the Panthers from a sub-500 team to a 12-4 record in two short years.

He's remained loyal to Carolina — and even now is relatively young compared to the class of top-tier quarterbacks in the NFL — with only 30 years to his name.

2014 was a trying season for Newton. Despite injury troubles that affected his ankle ligaments, ribs and back, Newton managed to achieve a fourth 500 rushing yard season and carry the Panthers into the division playoffs, where they fell to Seattle. One year later, they made it to the Super Bowl, but the thing he's remembered for is when he didn't dive for a fumble that may have cost them the championship.

Injury Trouble

In the seasons that followed Newton's Super Bowl ring, the Panthers have continued to be a formidable competitor. Nevertheless, Newton has suffered increasingly significant injuries, including a knee surgery in 2017.

Newton spent the past offseason recovering from shoulder surgery, an operation that can come with complications like infection, stiff shoulder, nerve injury and more. He's had to sit out since then, and now his job is in danger.

Staring down a postseason that could see Kyle Allen as Carolina's leading man — Newton has assumed the role of old-hat quarterback at a younger age than any self-respecting athlete would feel comfortable with.

A Difficult Decision

This situation is not the first time an NFL team has faced the challenge of potentially parting ways with a franchise face. Newton's predicament is made more challenging by the fact that his current contract, which expires in 2020, exacts a toll of $21.1 million against Carolina's salary cap. Cutting ties with Newton in 2019 would allow Carolina to build a team around Allen.

Not renewing the contract of a player who's delivered the kind of success that Newton has won't land lightly for Panther fans. However, with Newton's health in question, it might be wiser for the Panthers to end their relationship now, while they can still extract value on the trade market. If Kyle Allen continues to perform, he'll surely make demands that would put the Panthers over their salary cap and into penalty land within a season.

If you've watched Any Given Sunday, you know this is a pivotal moment both for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The turning point rarely comes for a quarterback who's age would suggest he's a long way from washed up. Yet Newton's recent stint of injuries could spell out a hapless future.

Age or mileage — which matters most when choosing a franchise quarterback? Perhaps the question truly comes down to health or experience. Newton has been a shining beacon for the Panthers in the past. His expertise, coupled with his age, makes him a competitive candidate. Yet with his health on the line, the franchise will have to make some hard choices.

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