CHARLOTTE — Kyle Allen’s football team won another football game this afternoon, moving on without Cam Newton.
Maybe for good.
The news that continues to leak out from local and national sources suggests that Newton’s days as Carolina’s quarterback could be coming to a close. The Lisfranc injury that has sidelined him for the past 53 days has not responded to treatment, and a now third opinion from Carolina’s old orthopedic specialist has apparently left Newton’s immediate future in doubt.
With a contract that ends in 2020, and a possible $30 million a season deal a healthy Newton would command, it’s highly doubtful the Panthers would write that check.
To now, Carolina has played the game of not commenting on Newton’s situation, while saying the team is waiting until he is “100 percent.” Whatever that means.
Nobody in the NFL is 100 percent healthy, but until recently the Panthers wouldn’t even admit what type of injury Newton has. Newton himself admitted a few weeks ago in a strange YouTube video that included dark lighting, a glass of red wine and a cigar that he indeed injured the Lisfranc or midfoot and said he could be out several weeks.
Surgery is still a possibility, though it appears that time and rehab are what Dr. Robert Anderson, now in Green Bay, has prescribed. That was also the first two diagnoses for Newton, who was injured in preseason yet played in Carolina’s first two games.
The ninth-year quarterback said he hid the extent of the injury, which suggests the team didn’t initially get the right diagnosis. It's not easy to walk around with a Lisfranc injury, much less play football.
The injury sometimes lingers for months. The NFL Network reported today that a decision on possibly putting Newton on the injured reserve list could come today. That would end his season.
Which brings us to the contract situation. If Newton indeed comes back to play this season, and Carolina would certainly play him if he’s healthy, it would basically be a tryout for a 30-year-old quarterback with injury issues.
If he doesn’t come back, Carolina would have few options. Either start negotiations on a contract extension that would likely make him the highest-paid player in the NFL, release him and save about $19 million in cap space, or trade him and let someone else write the check.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera was asked about Newton’s situation, from the injury to a possible IR designation, and he said he didn’t want to speculate. And then he ended the post-game meeting with reporters.
Since Newton went down, the Panthers have gone 5-1 with Allen running the offense. If nothing else, Carolina knows there’s life after Newton, the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the face of the franchise and the player everything is built around.
Allen doesn’t have Newton’s arm strength or size or running ability or the ability to alter games just with his presence. But he can run most of the offense, and he can buy time for Carolina.
And ultimately, he can save the Panthers a lot of money.
A week ago, in Carolina’s trip to San Francisco, Newton traveled and was on the sidelines. A lot has happened since then.
Newton went for the third opinion in Green Bay, the Panthers let the trade deadline pass as the uncertainty over the injury went league-wide, and then Carolina came home and won another football game, 30-20 over the Tennessee Titans, with Allen running the offense.
Newton was not on the sideline.
Allen was effective as the young skill players brought in to give Newton more weapons continue to mature into a talented group of receivers and runners. The caretaker quarterback did his job.
His job is still to buy time until Newton returns, but that too seems to be changing as Carolina comes to the realization that Newton just might not return.
At least not in a Panthers uniform.
The wait continues, and the wins keep coming. Carolina is biding time and doing the math as the clock comes closer to running out on Cam Newton, the injured quarterback on Kyle Allen’s football team.