CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers officially released quarterback Cam Newton on Tuesday, ending his nine-season tenure with the team.
The move became a formality after the Panthers said last week they were giving the 30-year-old out of Auburn University permission to seek a trade, and then agreeing to a three-year, $63 million contract with free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater about 90 minutes later.
On Monday night, Newton posted on his Instagram account that he was “hungrier” now because he is “unemployed,” WSOC-TV reported.
“Cam has meant a lot to this organization and the Carolinas,” Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said. “Everyone saw his performances on the field. I had the privilege of seeing how hard he worked off the field, and his commitment to this team when no one was watching. He’s the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose. He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise. His contributions to this team, this community and the game of football will leave a lasting impact on our organization.”
The breakup did not end well, WSOC reported.
After the Panthers announced Newton was free to seek a trade, the quarterback took to Twitter, posting a message directed at the front office that read, “Stop the word play!! I never asked for it!! There is no dodging this one; I love the Panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try and play me or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this: You forced me into this.”
According to reports, the Panthers tried to trade Newton to the Chicago Bears or Los Angeles Chargers but were unable to make a deal, and there are no starting quarterback jobs available.
Releasing Newton was the only option, according to ESPN.
Newton now becomes a free agent and can sign with another NFL team immediately.
The move frees up $19.1 million in salary cap space for the Panthers. They’ll have to absorb $2 million in dead cap money.
Newton has battled shoulder and foot injuries the past two seasons and lost his last eight starts for the Panthers, who drafted him No. 1 in 2011.
Panthers All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey thanked Newton on Instagram on Tuesday, posting, “You changed the way I approach the game and put the fun back in it for me. I’ll always owe you for that. I speak for the Carolinas when I say thank you for all memories and smiles you brought us. Love!”
Newton was sidelined last season after Week 2 due to the Lisfranc fracture in his left foot he suffered during the preseason.
“He’s one of the all-time greats in Panthers history,” Panthers’ owner David Tepper said. “If you ask any of our fans for their most memorable moments, I’m willing to bet that most of them will include Cam — electrifying plays, giving away footballs after touchdowns, fun celebrations and big wins. His competitive (spirit) and drive and rare. Off the field, you can’t measure Cam’s contributions. He has touched the lives of youths throughout the Carolinas and Atlanta.”
Newton went 68–55–1 in his career, leading the Panthers to the playoffs four times. He helped Carolina reach Super Bowl 50 in February 2015 but lost to the Broncos.
Newton made the Pro Bowl three times and was the NFL’s MVP in 2015.
© 2020 Cox Media Group