The Carolina Panthers on Wednesday introduced new head coach Matt Rhule, who steps into a situation that is currently facing a big question. What is the franchise going to do with quarterback Cam Newton?
The 30-year-old missed all but two games of the 2019 season due to a foot injury, and also suffered a shoulder injury in 2018 which forced him to miss the last few weeks of the season. Newton has just one year left on his current contract -- a deal the Panthers could possibly look to unload this offseason. It would be a $21.2 million cap hit for Carolina, but the Panthers could save a total of $19 million in cap space if they cut him or trade him away.
Rhule impressed in his introductory press conference -- preaching about how he will build a hard-working team, surround that team with a staff that loves football to encourage an atmosphere where players will want to be the best at whatever they do. Then came the time for questions from reporters, and the very first question had to do with the quarterback situation and what Rhule's plans were for Newton.
"To be quite fair, I probably haven't had a chance with regards to really any player to talk to Marty (Hurney) and Mr. (David) Tepper in terms of longterm vision," said Rhule. "What I will say is this: I had a chance to talk to Cam yesterday and I have the utmost respect for him and what he's done -- and I loved the way he talked to me, to be quite honest. He didn't want to talk about the past he wanted to talk about the future. Other than that, I would much rather talk to those guys and kind of get a feel for -- not just Cam -- but for all the players on the roster and really have a good process moving forward -- for the entire roster."
While Rhule says that he hasn't spoken with Panthers' brass about the quarterback situation, it must have come up at some point during the interview process. It's a decision that will affect this franchise for years to come, and Rhule could offer a differing opinion that could end up affecting what Carolina decides to do.
According to CBS NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, Panthers ownership was unsure about giving Newton another big extension even before his foot issue. Back in November, Panthers owner David Tepper also indicated that all options were on the table when it came to Newton's future.