Cam Newton said during Super Bowl week he “absolutely” was planning to return to the Panthers for the final year of his contract. But he may want to check with the team’s owner first.
David Tepper didn’t seem nearly as convinced as his one-time franchise quarterback.
“Listen, I’m not a doctor,” the Panthers owner told media on Tuesday. “I said it a million times, is he healthy? He’s not a doctor, so there’s a lot of different things can happen. But first is he healthy? Tell me that and then we can talk.”
It’s been a turbulent offseason for Carolina. It changed coaches, replacing Ron Rivera with former Baylor coach Matt Rhule, parted ways with tight end Greg Olsen and saw star linebacker Luke Kuechly retire.
The 30-year-old Newton, who has spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career with the Panthers, missed 14 games this year with a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot and the final year of his deal carries a $21.1 million cap hit. If he’s dealt or cut, the Panthers could save $19 million. But before the Super Bowl, Newton sounded like he was going to be back. At least that was his understanding.
“It’s devastating to not have the coach who drafted you, but at the same time, you’ve got to turn the page,” he said then. “I had an unbelievable conversation with Marty Hurney, the GM, David Tepper the owner, as well as Coach Rhule, the new head coach. And I left that meeting inspired. And I told them, ‘You won’t find another person in that locker room with more to prove, not only to you, but I’ve got to prove to myself.’”