It’s now been more than two months since the last time we saw Cam Newton on the field for the Carolina Panthers, and not so coincidentally, it’s also been more than two months since the last time Newton spoke with the media.
With questions swirling about his future, the Panthers quarterback finally broke his silence with the media on Monday during his annual Thanksgiving Jam event. During the event, Newton served up Thanksgiving dinner in Charlotte to 1,300 underprivileged kids and their families. Although Newton didn’t take questions from reporters at the event, he did briefly bring up the elephant in the room: His future in Carolina.
With just one year left on his contract, Newton’s status with the Panthers is completely up in the air. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reported in early November that a new deal. La Canfora has also reported that new Panthers owner David Tepper has , which could lead to a complete overhaul of the Panthers’ coaching staff and front office.
When it comes to Newton, the Panthers are going to have three options: They can keep him, they can cut him or they can trade him. Based on his comments on Monday, it sounds like the Panthers quarterback would like to stay in Charlotte for the foreseeable future.
“Charlotte is home,” Newton said, via ESPN.com. “Charlotte is a place I know people know me. They’re not just assuming. They know how I am. They know my energy. They know what I like and what I don’t like. For me to have that type of presence, it just reminds me that … it’s right. We’re looking forward to countless more years in Charlotte to impact the community in ways outside of the game of football.”
Although Tepper wouldn’t, the Panthers owner did show up for the quarterback’s event on Monday, which meant a lot to Newton.
“It means a lot,” Newton said of Tepper’s attendance. “Him and his wife, just the unwavering support from them. There are so many people that help along the process to make my life easier.”
Newton, who was placed on injured reserve in November, also added that he’s felt supported during his time away from the team.
“From comments to text messages to voicemails to phone calls, it’s just great to see certain people never changing upon you and knowing you can always depend on certain people,” Newton said.
The charity event was the first time since September that Newton has really made his way out into public, and from the sound of it, he really enjoyed his experience.
“I was in a place where I wasn’t used to being,” Newton said of being out. “Being in the position I am, being away from the game and missing the support and the on-field interactions with fans, when you finally do come out to a showing like this and it’s the first time in about eight to nine weeks, that’s what you miss the most.
As for Newton’s future, the Panthers will have a lot to consider this offseason. After the 2019 season, Newton will have only have one year left on his contract, which is a deal the Panthers could look to unload. The Panthers can save a total of $19 million in cap space if they decide to cut him or trade him away this season, which is why both of those options could make sense (Although trading him would make a lot more sense than cutting him).
One of the reasons the Panthers have been hesitant to commit to him for the long term is because he’s been battling multiple injuries. Not only is he dealing with a foot issue that will eventually cause him to miss 14 games this season, but he also missed two games last year due to a shoulder injury.
The good news for Newton is that he still has the support of the owner, which could help pave the way for him to stay with the Panthers if that’s what both sides decide they want to do.