INDIANAPOLIS — It looks like the Carolina Panthers are planning to head into the 2020 season with Cam Newton as their starting quarterback.
According to NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport, the Panthers intend to hold onto their franchise quarterback, per a source informed of the situation, despite speculation of him possibly being traded this offseason.
Newton is currently recovering from a foot injury and won’t be ready for action for another few months, which Rapoport reported Tuesday as a major complication for any potential trade.
The Panthers recently hired Matt Rhule as the team’s new head coach and Rapaport said the coaching staff has been impressed with Newton’s rehab process and the QB’s drive to return to top form.
Rhule had his chance to provide more insight into Newton’s future on the team at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis Tuesday.
He said he wouldn’t commit to a “healthy” Cam as the starting quarterback because as a first year head coach, no one is guaranteed a starting job, but he did fully expect Newton to be on the roster come September.
“From my perspective, I’m unbelievably excited to get a chance to work with Cam,” Rhule said. “To me, it’s all about ‘Hey, are we doing all the right things to get him healthy?’ When Cam’s healthy, he’s one of the best of the best so I won’t speculate on the future of any player on the team, but I’d like to get him healthy. I’d like to get him out there.”
Channel 9 learned Newton has been traveling back and forth from Atlanta to work out and has had multiple positive meetings with the training staff and coaching staff over the last several weeks.
“The times I’ve talked with him, it’s been about him, this process, him as a person, me as a person,” Rhule said. “I think it’s just been getting to know him.”
Due to league rules, they can’t talk specifically about things like the offensive scheme, but all the normal rules apply -- Newton needs to be healthy and no player on the team is safe should the right trade arise.
Over the last several weeks, two sources close to Newton have told Channel 9′s Sports Director Phil Orban that he had become increasingly frustrated at the lack of public support, which is how many interpreted a video Newton posted on Instagram Tuesday morning, where mid-workout he shouts to no one in particular, “All I want is a little commitment.”
The 2015 NFL MVP played in just two games this past season after injuring his foot during preseason play. After months of delay, he had surgery in December.
In November, Newton said he wanted to not only play for the Panthers this fall, but he also wants to end his career in Charlotte.
"Charlotte is home,'' Newton said per ESPN. “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.''
Panthers owner David Tepper spoke to the media about Newton earlier this month and said health will play a big factor in terms of what the team will do with the face of the franchise.
“There’s a lot of different things that can happen," Tepper said. "First – is healthy? Tell me that and then we can talk.”
According to Rapoport, the current plan is to keep Newton on the roster since he has one more year left on his contract. However, a lot can happen in the next few months with free agency starting on Mar. 18 and the draft beginning on Apr. 23.
If Newton is not healthy by the time offseason workouts begin, it’s possible the Panthers could see if teams are still interested in a trade.
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