Cam Newton’s time with the Carolina Panthers is coming to an end. That much we know. But when?

Panthers owner David Tepper has specified that he needs to know if Newton is healthy before he makes any decisions on him moving forward, which is a fine strategy.

Newton played in just two games this past season due to a foot injury, and he has also undergone a pair of shoulder surgeries over the last few years, so his health is certainly a question mark heading into 2020.

For that reason, I am going to preface this by saying that Carolina needs to make sure Newton’s health checks out before opting to bring him back for next season.

But if it does? Newton needs to be back under center.

It’s not like the Panthers have many other options.

Yes, they own the seventh overall pick in the NFL Draft this spring, so they can always draft a quarterback, but even if they do that, wouldn’t it be nice to have Newton on board to mention a potential rookie and provide a bridge?

And let’s say Carolina doesn’t take a signal-caller. Then what? The Panthers are basically left with Kyle Allen and Will Grier, neither of which inspired much confidence in 2019.

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Sure, Allen reeled off four straight wins after Newton went down in Week 2, but it didn’t take long for his warts to surface. As for Grier? He made a couple of starts and looked absolutely awful. To be fair, he was a rookie, and it was an incredibly small sample size, but I’m not sure Grier profiles as Carolina’s quarterback of the future.

I understand that Newton is not the same player he once was. His arm strength has been sapped, and his athleticism has waned. But he is the best option on the Panthers’ active roster.

Heck, maybe Newton will dig deep and have a big year in 2020 and have Carolina in playoff contention? It’s not like the Panthers are bereft of offensive talent. Christian McCaffrey is a monster. D.J. Moore looks like a stud.

Is it likely that Carolina will make the playoffs next season? No. The Panthers still have holes on both sides of the football. They have many more problems than just Newton.

But you never know. Stranger things have happened in the NFL, and if Newton can somehow find it within himself to regain bits and pieces of his old form, Carolina could at least be decent.

Now, the catch is that Newton is due to make $18.6 million next year, and with the Panthers not having a ton of cap room entering this offseason, cutting him would save some money and help Carolina add some other pieces and/or re-sign some of its other free agents.

I’m just not sure how beneficial that would be. If Newton had a couple of years left on his deal, then I could definitely see the argument for letting him go, but he doesn’t. The 2020 campaign represents the final year of his contract, so all the Panthers have to do is make it through one more season with him.

Newton isn’t Superman anymore, but it’s hard to think of a better option for Carolina under center going into next year.