The Carolina Panthers have parted ways with head coach Ron Rivera, tight end Greg Olsen and also saw longtime defensive captain Luke Kuechly retire this offseason. They are entering a period of transition, and quarterback Cam Newton could be next to leave Carolina.
Newton now has just one year left on his contract, and it's a deal the Panthers could look to unload this offseason. The final year of Newton's contract has a $21.1 million cap hit, but Carolina could save a total of $19 million in cap space if they decide to cut him or trade him. Newton missed 14 games this season with a foot injury and two games in 2018 with a shoulder injury. The health of the 30-year-old is going to be important when it comes to what the Panthers decide to do, and team owner David Tepper put it pretty bluntly when talking to reporters on Tuesday afternoon.
"Listen, I'm not a doctor," said Tepper, via David Newton of ESPN. "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 a narrative that Tepper has been pushing for months now. Back in November, Tepper said that, and it will remain that way until his health is determined.
"It's devastating to not have the coach who drafted you," he said, "but at the same time, you've got to turn the page. I had an unbelievable conversation with Marty Hurney, the GM, David Tepper the owner, as well as Coach (Matt) 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.'"
The former No. 1 overall pick has spent all nine seasons with the Panthers, and how well he is doing in rehab this offseason may decide if he'll get to finish his career in Carolina.