As the Carolina Panthers head toward their bye week with a 4-2 record, the dominating conversation is whether or not quarterback Cam Newton should retake his starting job once he has recovered from a foot injury. However, Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman is changing the subject with a report that there are possibly 10 teams interested in trading for Newton.
According to an article released on Sunday, Freeman talked to a general manager of an unnamed AFC team and was told that there would be a "robust trade market" if the Panthers opted to stick with the hot hand in backup Kyle Allen. Although the unnamed GM did say that the market would clearly depend on the overall health of Newton.
Considering that Newton has been viewed as a generational player since being selected first overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, it would appear to be a surprise that a trade is even possible. After all, the Auburn product once led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 and a 15-1 record while being named league MVP.
There is a belief that a healthy Newton has a higher ceiling than Allen considering his ability to make plays with his legs and his arms. However, health has been the issue recently. Newton has dealt with multiple shoulder injuries, a fractured rib, and a recent foot injury in his career, along with other minor ailments.
I'm not going to worry about it,'' head coach Ron Rivera said in reference to Newton's return from injury and a possible change at quarterback. "I'm not going to speculate on anything until I have to address that. So until then, we're going to stay in the now, stay in the focus of what we're doing right now.
"As far as I'm concerned, we're not going to deal with the question until it is time. And when the time comes, I will address it. As far as I'm concerned, [Cam's] in the rehab program and he's doing the program and our quarterback right now playing for us is Kyle. So we're not going to address it.''
In four games as the starter this season, Allen has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception, but he has fumbled six times and lost four. This included three against the Texans in week four. Still, he is 4-0 as a starter and has been helped by the Panthers defense wreaking havoc on opposing quarterbacks.
Against the Buccaneers in London, this group intercepted Jameis Winston five times and forced two fumbles. Allen's job was made significantly easier due to the play of this defense.
While the debate surrounding Allen and Newton is going to continue until the 2015 MVP is healthy and ready to return to action, there are some questions that must be answered. For example, how will Allen handle adversity after throwing one or more interceptions in a close game? Will he recover and lead a comeback drive to achieve victory, or will the pressure of the moment prove to be overwhelming?
Those answers will not be provided for more than a week given that the Panthers are on a bye after returning from London. However, the battle with the San Francisco 49ers on October 27 could serve as a fitting measuring stick considering that the Bay Area team is 5-0 and has a swarming defense that recently shut down the Los Angeles Rams and quarterback Jared Goff.
If Allen starts that game and performs well, the debate about him and Newton will only continue to rage, but an interception-filled performance could immediately end the conversation.
(Photo Credit: Jacob Kupferman/Getty)