Cam Newton, an NFL MVP at quarterback for the Carolina Panthers just a few years ago, remains unsigned. The team has taken some heat for the timing on their decision to release him.
It became pretty clear that the Panthers were set to go in a different direction after the season. Given Newton's recent health issues, and the fact that the entire franchise has been revamped, it isn't a huge surprise. However, the way things played out probably didn't give Newton the best chance to take advantage of free agency.
Newton wasn't released until the second week of NFL free agency during the spring. For comparison, veteran tight end Greg Olsen was released earlier, and was able to weigh multiple options before signing with the Seattle Seahawks. General manager Marty Hurney said that the team moved each player after decisions were made, indicating that the team was considering moving forward with Newton into free agency.
The team wound up signing Teddy Bridgewater as its new starting quarterback. A few other teams with needs at the position acquired new players before Newton was officially available. Now he's still a free agent. This week, head coach Matt Rhule was asked for his thoughts on people placing blame on the Carolina Panthers for Newton's current situation. His answer was... lacking at best.
"I think at this point with Cam, I think we've answered it," Rhule responded. "You know, I respect him, and I hate to keep...I don't want to say the wrong thing or anything."
"I have a lot of respect for him and I think that's been answered."
The Panthers were well within their rights to release Cam Newton and move forward in a new direction. It just seems like they've jumped at the ability to really erase him completely, rather than honor him for the legacy he had there.