NFL

Christian McCaffrey Says Cam Newton ‘Put the Fun Back’ in Playing Football

Following much speculation, the Carolina Panthers have finally moved on from star quarterback Cam Newton. The writing had been on the wall over the last week after the team elected to bring aboard Teddy Bridgewater in free agency to replace him as the starter effectively. It marks the end of a nine-year tenure for Newton that saw him experience plenty of success with the franchise over the years. His departure also garnered a meaningful reaction from All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey voicing his appreciation for playing alongside the former league MVP.

Panthers part ways with Cam Newton

Throughout the last few months, there had been some serious questions concerning Newton‘s long-term future in Carolina.

The 30-year-old is coming off another campaign that was cut short by injuries as a foot ailment forced him to miss the final 14 games of the season. It marked the second straight year that he failed to finish the regular season due to injury.

That combined with his contract situation as he was in the final year of his five-year, $103.8 million deal with just a $2 million dead cap hit made cutting him the reasonable choice. The Panthers reportedly attempted to trade him to the Los Angeles Chargers or Chicago Bears, but things didn’t progress far in those discussions likely due to the injury risk and given that he would be making $21.1 million for the 2020 campaign.

It was a tough decision for the franchise to make, but one they felt was time to move on from Newton given the continued struggles with injuries.

Christian McCaffrey reacts to Cam Newton being released

Through his first three seasons in the league, McCaffrey had the opportunity to play alongside Newton throughout that entire span.

That also built a strong bond between the two Pro Bowlers as they became close teammates and the linchpins to the offense. In response to the Panthers letting go Newton on Tuesday morning, McCaffrey put out a personal message to his former teammate, where he voiced his appreciation for being able to play alongside him.

“Thank you 1! 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… #1ØVĒ”

Newton played a significant role in helping McCaffrey’s growth into arguably the best all-around running back in the league. The Stanford product was significantly utilized in the passing game in his second campaign, which set the stage to him becoming a legitimate dual-threat option out of the backfield.

Although his time with Newton was short-lived with just one playoff appearance during that stretch, McCaffrey has a tremendous amount of respect for the former league MVP.

What’s next for Christian McCaffrey?

With Newton out of the mix for the Panthers, it shifts attention over to what lies ahead.

McCaffrey will continue to play a significant role in the offensive game plan alongside Bridgewater. There’s no question that Carolina will continue to lean heavily upon their star running back to be their driving force.

That will be even more the case with both Newton and tight end Greg Olsen both out of the picture. The Panthers will have to exercise precaution to not run down McCaffrey as their heavy usage could put him in the territory of being more prone to injury or declined performance over time.

Meanwhile, it will be for Bridgewater to be an effective factor with his arm if the Panthers hope to contend for the playoffs, especially in the even more tough NFC South that now includes Tom Brady playing for the Tampa Buccaneers. All in all, McCaffrey will figure to be a massive part in their playoff push next season and beyond.