When the Carolina Panthers placed Cam Newton on Injured Reserve this week, there was an outside chance that he could return to the active roster if the team makes the playoffs. However, that may no longer be the case as a new report suggests that the former first overall pick could undergo surgery in the near future. NFL insider Ian Rapoport also reports that Newton is aiming for a return to full health by March, which coincides with the start of the new league year and the first opportunity for players to be traded.
"My understanding, Rich [Eisen], is that Cam Newton is playing for a different team next season," Rapoport said on NFL GameDay. "And here's why: he's due about $19 million in salary, none of it is guaranteed. He is a franchise quarterback who is intent on being healthy for March. That means he is very tradeable."
While there could be concerns about Newton meeting this timeline, Rapoport said that the QB is considering surgery to replace the torn ligaments in his foot, which would bring about a recovery time of roughly eight weeks.
From @NFLGameDay: #Panthers QB Cam Newton is now considering surgery following being placed on IR, with the goal of being healthy by March... when his future will be decided. pic.twitter.com/P3iVbughE9— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 10, 2019
For comparison, Newton used former Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was traded to Denver prior to the 2019 season. Although he has since landed on Injured Reserve as well after suffering a neck injury.
If Newton is indeed targeting a trade or his eventual release as Rapoport reported, the question will become "which team?" The Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins are both on the path to a top-five pick in the NFL Draft, but there will be intriguing options coming out of college in Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Joe Burrows of LSU. Dolphins general manager Chris Grier and two of the team stats were on hand for this high-profile matchup on Saturday afternoon.
The Chicago Bears, however, appear to be also in need of a quarterback after starter Mitch Trubisky has struggled in another season, but they will not be able to select a quarterback in the first round. They sent the upcoming first-round pick to the Oakland Raiders as part of the Khalil Mack trade prior to the 2018 season.
Currently, Rapoport believes that the Bears will be the best option, per his sources, but that will not be determined until March. Newton's ability to recover from the expected surgery will also play a factor.
(Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty)