Tepper reiterates: Newton’s future hinges on health

33

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper reiterated on Tuesday that the future of Cam Newton won’t be decided until the quarterback’s health is known.

“It’s a question of how healthy he is, foot and otherwise,” Tepper told a group of reporters in Charlotte. “That’s still the No. 1 overwhelming thing. … And everything comes from that.”

Asked about Newton’s assertion during Super Bowl week that he would be back with the Panthers, Tepper replied, “I’m not a doctor. I’ve said it a million times — is he healthy? He’s not a doctor. So there’s a lot of different things that can happen, but first, is he healthy? Tell me that and we can talk.”

Tepper sidestepped a question about whether other teams have called to gauge Newton’s availability in a trade.

Newton, who is recovering from December surgery for a Lisfranc injury in his left foot, said two weeks ago in Miami that he “had an unbelievable conversation” with general manager Marty Hurney, Tepper, and new head coach Matt Rhule, saying he “left that meeting inspired.” He added that he will “absolutely” be back with the Panthers in 2020.

Tepper and Rhule skirted questions about Newton at the coach’s introductory press conference in early January. Tepper had previously indicated Newton’s health must be determined before any decisions are made.

Newton, 30, initially hurt his foot in the preseason. He returned to play the first two weeks of the regular season but aggravated the injury in Week 2. He landed on injured reserve in November, and after progress in his rehab was limited, Newton decided in early December to have surgery.

The nine-year veteran has also had a pair of surgeries on his throwing shoulder in recent years, including last year after playing through the issue for much of the 2018 campaign.

Newton has one year remaining on his contract, worth $19.1 million in 2020, but none of the figure is guaranteed, and the Panthers could release him or trade him to save $17.1 million against the cap.

He passed for 572 yards, no touchdowns and one interception in 2019. Overall, he has thrown for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions in 125 games (124 starts). He also has rushed for 4,806 yards and 58 scores.

Newton was the NFL MVP in 2015 when he passed for 3,837 yards and a career-best 35 touchdowns while leading Carolina to the Super Bowl. He was intercepted 10 times and also rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.