CAROLINA PANTHERS UPDATE 

lPANTHERS MOVING ON FROM NEWTON; BRIDGEWATER NEXT MAN UP?

The Panthers on Tuesday gave quarterback Cam Newton permission to seek a trade. General manager Marty Hurney met with Newton and his representation to discuss the plan, signaling the end of a nine-year run in Carolina.

"One of the distinct pleasures of my career was selecting Cam with the first pick in the 2011 draft," Hurney said. "Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts."

Newton responded to the Panthers’ intent to trade him, in his own way.

The 30-year-old quarterback responded on social media (still in his distinctive font) that the idea was theirs and not his.

“Stop with the word play. I never asked for it,” he wrote. “There is no dodging this one. I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys.

“Please do not try to play me, or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this. You forced me into this.”

While each side gets to tell its own story, a few facts in this case are clear.

As Profootballtalk.com's Darin Gantt notes, Newton is coming off back-to-back seasons that ended in injury. He’s coming off foot surgery for the most recent one and is still rehabbing. He’s turning 31 in May.

He’s also entering the final year of his contract, and would certainly like some more security, based on his recent workout video in which he shouted that all he wanted was “a little commitment.”

It was clear the Panthers weren’t going to give it to him, at least not before he proved himself healthy. When owner David Tepper fired coach Ron Rivera, he was talking about how attractive the job was, and he mentioned “we’re not weighed down by a $36 million mistake right now” referring to quarterback contracts.

It would have been foolish to pay Newton at the moment, and no player of MVP caliber should want to go into the final year of his contract at what is suddenly a below-market rate.

So now the two sides get to tell their own versions, while seeking a mutually beneficial outcome.

For the Panthers, that appears to be moving on to former Saints QB Teddy Bridgewater.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers are finalizing a deal with Bridgewater to be their starting QB.

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the two sides are negotiating a three-year contract in the $60 million rang. The deal is not done as they work out details but it is expected to be complete when new league year opens Wednesday.

Bridgewater was with Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady in New Orleans in 2018. That familiarity is apparently part of this. ...

As for Newton, who will turn 31 in May, the next stop is unclear.

He's made the Pro Bowl three times and was the NFL's MVP in 2015, but Newton has suffered numerous injuries since 2016, which led to multiple surgeries on his throwing shoulder and a foot procedure. Newton, who holds most of Carolina's all-time passing records, was limited to two games in 2019 after suffering a Lisfranc fracture in his left foot during the preseason.

We'll be watching for potential suitors in coming days.

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