CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton’s injury status has raised questions about whether he has played his final game for the Panthers.
The 2015 league MVP has struggled with shoulder and foot issues the past two seasons and will finish this season on injured reserve because of a foot injury. He is 0-8 in his past eight starts.
The Panthers face a difficult decision in February.
The organization must decide whether to pay Newton $21.1 million next season or cut ties with the longtime face of the franchise and save $19 million under the 2020 salary cap. If the Panthers decide to let Newton go, the quarterback would cost the Panthers only $2 million next season in dead cap space.
Trading Newton would be another option, though the Panthers would have to find a team willing to take on his exiting contract or agree to give him an extension.
General manager Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera aren’t ready to discuss that option, not with the Panthers (5-3) in the playoff hunt.
Newton, who hasn’t done an interview about his health since aggravating his foot injury in a Week 2 loss to the Bucs, made a brief appearance in the locker room Wednesday.
When asked if he had time to talk, he responded playfully, “I haven’t talked to y’all in a month of Sundays. This a month of Sundays. I got nothing for y’all.”
When pressed to talk, Newton looked back at reporters with a smile and said, “Y’all got all of the answers anyway. Y’all going to figure it out.”
Newton’s representatives haven’t returned phone calls and text messages from the Associated Press seeking comment on his future.
Hurney also declined interview requests, instead referring to the statement he released Tuesday. That statement said, “At this time, we have decided that the best decision to reach the goal of bringing the foot back to 100 percent is to place Cam on injured reserve.”
Rivera said it was a “collective decision” between all parties to put Newton on injured reserve but refused to discuss the situation after making an opening statement at a news conference Wednesday.
“We feel right now the best thing was to put him on injured reserve and move forward,” Rivera said.
“I really do appreciate everything Cam does and the fact he is still here and wants to be around and be part of it. He’s done a great job doing it. With that, I would like to start talking about playing the Packers” on Sunday.”