Cam Newton was the talk of the NFL in 2015. Not only did he have a career season, but the Panthers won nearly every game. Football fans everywhere thought the 26-year-old was finally having his coming-out party as a star quarterback. Unfortunately, Newton’s four seasons since Super Bowl 50 have been a major disappointment.
The rise of Cam Newton
After spending two years with the Florida Gators, Newton’s rise to prominence came in his spectacular, albeit scandal-ridden year at Auburn. Not only did Newton throw the ball well, with 2,854 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, but most defenses struggled against his running game. Newton rushed for an additional 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns.
After that dominant season, Newton went No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft to the Panthers. There, he quickly showed his value to an NFL team with over 4,000 throwing yards and 21 touchdowns. With 17 interceptions and only six wins, however, the QB saw room for growth. Newton regressed in his second season. But the Panthers ran a more conservative offense in the 2013 season — a step in the right direction.
After yet another tough season in 2014, Newton had an MVP season. He threw for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He also rushed for an additional 636 yards and 10 touchdowns. Newton had a career-best 99.4 quarterback rating, and the Panthers went 15-1 in the regular season. Despite a loss to the Denver Broncos, where Newton struggled heavily, Carolina hoped its QB had better things to come.
Newton’s Super Bowl hangover
Unfortunately for Newton, things regressed quickly in the 2016 season. He started 14 games, and his accuracy dropped 7%. His yardage declined further, and his 19 throwing touchdowns barely eclipsed 14 interceptions. Newton proved to be a star quarterback at his best, but his lack of consistency disturbed fans.
Newton had a minor comeback in 2017 when the 11-5 Panthers showed some life and his accuracy rose to about where it was in 2015. But the QB didn’t have the same explosiveness that made him a fan-favorite two years earlier.
His 2018 season was his best since the Super Bowl, with a career-high 67.9% completion rate and 24 TDs, but the Panthers only went 6-8. After two games in 2018, Newton’s season was over thanks to a lingering foot issue that he’d played through for years, reports the Charlotte-Observer.
What happened to Newton?
Injuries did not help the regression Newton faced. But he hadn’t missed any time before 2018 when a shoulder injury cut his season short. The 2019 season, despite a reputation as an injury-ridden player, was the first time Newton missed more than two games in a year since the start of his career.
The issues with Newton seemed to be his confidence. When things went well, like in 2015, he dominated defenses and led the Panthers to victory. When things started going south, however, as they did in Super Bowl 50, Newton couldn’t dig himself out of the hole. The lingering foot and shoulder issues didn’t help, but Newton’s inability to step up was a concern.
In March 2020, the Panthers cut him after unsuccessful trade attempts. And Newton is struggling to find a new job. A team will likely take a risk on Newton, even if it’s as a backup, but he’ll have to show he can play through both debilitating injuries and the struggles of an NFL season. The writing is on the wall for the 31-year-old.