- The Panthers fired head coach Ron Rivera on Tuesday.
- What does that mean for Cam Newton’s future?
- His health and contract could mean the second chapter of his career is here.
The Carolina Panthers’ dismissal of Ron Rivera isn’t exactly surprising.
David Tepper bought the team in May 2018, a few months after Rivera signed a two-year contract extension. Carolina has struggled in the interim, going a disappointing 7-9 last season and entering Sunday’s action at 5-7. Tepper inherited Rivera, basically, and the prospect of consecutive losing seasons provided the perfect opportunity to make the Panthers’ longtime head coach the fall guy.
Rivera’s firing could be the first of many franchise-changing dominoes to fall in Carolina over the ensuing months. General manager Marty Hurney is rumored to be on the way out as well, and the Panthers have several decisions to make on marquee defenders this off-season.
But even before Rivera’s ouster, the biggest question facing Carolina revolved around Cam Newton. With the only coach he’s ever played for gone, will the Panthers’ longtime franchise quarterback follow him out the door?
Debilitating Health Woes
No one doubts Newton’s talent. He’s been one of the most dynamic players in football throughout his career when healthy, leading the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2015 while winning MVP.
Newton’s peers even voted him as the league’s best player in 2016.
Until Newton came along, many personnel decision-makers clung to the erroneous notion that quarterbacks who double as dangerous runners couldn’t achieve success at the highest level. He deserves immense, lasting credit for ridding the league of that pernicious line of thinking alone.
But that also points to the reality that makes Newton’s potential level of play going forward something largely unknown. His body was clearly breaking down even before suffering a dreaded Lisfranc sprain in his foot that’s caused him to miss 14 games this season.