The Carolina Panthers are in a difficult spot. Franchise quarterback Cam Newton was just placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
Before his injury, Newton looked downright bad, leading the Panthers to an 0-2 record. This alone would cripple most teams, but the Panthers have an even bigger dilemma in front of them.
Backup signal-caller Kyle Allen has been fantastic in relief of Newton, winning five of six starts. Many have been calling for the end of Newton’s era, and the beginning of Allen’s. It’s a flashy, somewhat hot take, but Newton is still the best option for Carolina.
One popular arguing point for Allen supporters is Carolina’s cap situation. Releasing Newton would net the Panthers about an extra $19 million dollars in cap space.
Keeping him will cost Carolina $21 million dollars. This decision may sound like a no-brainer, but a deeper dive into the numbers will say otherwise. That cap hit is only 19th-highest in the league, behind names like Joe Flacco, Alex Smith, and Eli Manning.
Another, more important point is Newton’s level of play. Too many people hail Kyle Allen as a franchise-saving saint, only looking at the Panthers record. It’s true that Allen has done great at keeping Carolina afloat, but nothing more than that.
Throughout his starts, Allen is only 1-1 against teams with winning records. His other victories are games that plenty of backups could keep competitive. The former undrafted free agent is the perfect game manager, but nothing more.
He relies on running back Christian McCaffrey and his staunch defense for victories, and it works. But it only works to a point.
Allen is not a bad player by any means. His caveat is that his ceiling is low, but his floor is high. Allen will never lead a Super Bowl team because that requires an incredible playmaking ability from the quarterback.
The former Texas A&M Aggie will beat the teams he is supposed to beat and lose to those he is supposed to lose to. That is not what a team wants out of a franchise quarterback.
A franchise quarterback is someone who can call their own number when the time is right, while still bringing out the best in his team. Newton is much closer to that than Allen.
Here’s where everyone brings up his admittedly poor play to start the season. It’s clear that Newton wasn’t operating at full health, something that would hamper any quarterback. When the former first overall pick gets healthy, it’s not even a competition between him and Allen.
Carolina should be patient with the former MVP and give him one more shot. If Newton can’t stay healthy during the 2020 season, it’s time to cut bait. But until then, Newton should remain a Panther.