The Carolina Panthers could be forced to play the 2019 season without star quarterback Cam Newton, as the 2015 league MVP deals with a nagging injury in his right throwing shoulder.
According to ESPN.com's David Newton, Carolina is "keeping all options open," in regards to possibly not having Newton for next season. Owner David Tepper sounded off on the situation when asked how it compares to Andrew Luck - who missed all of 2017 after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery:
"If you told me he took a year off and could recover and be fully recovered and everything else, and that's what it took, an extra year, why wouldn't you do (that)?
Now we would have to do other things, right? We'd have to go out and get another quarterback. If you could find me some more cap space I'd appreciate that."
The decision was made by the Panthers to rest Newton for the final two games of the season, with their playoff hopes over and his ability to throw being significantly hampered. Per Newton of ESPN, the team could opt for Newton to undergo shoulder surgery again, and thus miss all of 2019.
The 29-year-old Newton finished 2018 with 3,395 passing yards and 24 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He also recorded 488 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns on the season.
Carolina got off to a promising 6-2 start, but they unraveled mightily from there and wound up losing their next seven games. They didn't snap the skid until Week 17 - defeating a New Orleans Saints team that was resting most of its starters after clinching the top seed in the NFC.
The Panthers have now missed the playoffs in two of the last three years, ever since Newton won the 2015 MVP, and when Carolina reached Super Bowl 50 after recording a 15-1 regular season record.
If Newton is forced to miss 2019, the Panthers will have to go to work in finding a veteran that can take over the starting reigns for a year. This is a situation that is worth monitoring very closely throughout the offseason.
What This Means
It's not ideal if the Panthers have to lose their star quarterback for an entire season, but they have to do whatever it takes to protect him for the long haul. Luck had an MVP caliber season in his first year back, and perhaps Newton will regain his elite form if he undergoes surgery and sacrifices an entire season. We'll see how this all plays out over the coming months.