Cam Newton, released by the Carolina Panthers on Tuesday, declared himself “free and hungry.”
The move saved the Panthers $19.1 million in salary-cap space.
Newton, who turns 31 in May, is coming off of Lisfranc surgery and had a shoulder operation prior to the 2019 season. He received permission from the Panthers to seek a trade, and the team earlier signaled it was moving on with multiple moves at the quarterback position and what read like a farewell from ownership.
“Cam is one of the all-time greats in Panthers history,” owner David Tepper said in a statement. “If you ask any of our fans of their most memorable moments, I’m willing to bet that most of them would include Cam — electrifying plays, giving away footballs after touchdowns, fun celebrations and big wins. His competitiveness and drive are rare. Off the field, you can’t measure Cam’s contributions. He has touched the lives of youth throughout the Carolinas and in Atlanta. He’s unique and I wish him all the best.”
Newton replied on Instagram, using a highly embellished font next to a photo of himself doing weight training, “im FREE and HUNGRY!! noPITYparty justWORK! #shineTHRUtheSHADE #notFORlikesJUSTforLIFE 10VE”
The No. 1 pick in the 2011 draft, Newton was NFL MVP in 2015 when the Panthers lost in the Super Bowl to the Denver Broncos. He was a three-time Pro Bowl pick.
Combined with Newton, the Panthers have cleared around $40 million in cap space with the retirement of Luke Kuechly and releasing tight end Greg Olsen and defensive tackle Dontari Poe, per Spotrac.
Several teams have uncertain situations at quarterback one week into free agency. The New England Patriots signed Brian Hoyer after Tom Brady bolted for Tampa Bay, and the Los Angeles Chargers haven’t made a move since losing Philip Rivers to the Indianapolis Colts.
Newton and former Buccaneers No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston are among the options available for teams looking to upgrade at the position.
Newton was entering the final year of his contract. He had a salary cap figure of $21.1 million in 2020, including a base salary of $18.6 million. He signed a five-year, $103.8 million contract extension in 2015 that took effect with the 2016 season.
The Panthers signed free agent Teddy Bridgewater as the likely starter in 2020. Bridgewater was the backup to Drew Brees last season in New Orleans and went 5-0 as the Saints’ starter when Brees was injured.
—Field Level Media