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Panthers give QB Cam Newton permission to seek a trade, Newton says Panthers 'forced me into this'

The Carolina Panthers are allowing quarterback Cam Newton to move on.

Newton has been given permission to seek a trade, according to an announcement by the team on Tuesday morning.

Newton, the former NFL MVP, missed most of last season due to injury. He has been the Panthers quarterback since the team took him first overall in the 2011 draft. Newton made it clear that he did not want to seek a trade, and that the Panthers “forced me into this.”

Newton, who will turn 31 in May, gets to start over with a new team if the Panthers and his representatives can find a trade partner.

"One of the distinct pleasures of my career was selecting Cam with the first pick in the 2011 draft," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said, according to the Panthers’ site. "Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts."

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) has been given permission to seek a trade. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)

Do Panthers have a Plan B in place?

The news that Newton would be allowed to seek a trade was sudden. It seemed the team would stick with Newton. New coach Matt Rhule said less than a month ago that he wanted to coach Newton. It’s not like the Panthers have any in-house replacement yet. Kyle Allen proved to be a mediocre option replacing Newton and rookie Will Grier looked like he was in over his head.

ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported Tuesday that the Panthers were interested in free-agent Teddy Bridgewater. That might be the impetus for Newton suddenly being allowed to seek a trade. Bridgewater played well last season in five starts when he replaced the injured Drew Brees on the New Orleans Saints.

It seems unlikely the Panthers would move on from Newton, a three-time Pro Bowler, without knowing who their next quarterback will be.

Questions about Cam Newton

Newton has been a fantastic player, perhaps overlooked at bit because he’s so polarizing to many people. But he is one of the great dual-threat quarterbacks in NFL history. That started during his Heisman Trophy season at Auburn in 2010 and carried into the pros. In 2015 he won NFL MVP and led the Panthers to a 15-1 record and NFC championship.

But Newton has taken a lot of punishment. The Panthers often used him in the running game, and his 934 career rushing attempts are a cause for concern. Newton played in only two games last season after suffering a foot injury in preseason. He was coming back from offseason shoulder surgery. There are still questions about his health now, which is one reason it seemed the Panthers might not trade him.

Even though Newton will be just 31 next season, he might have to reinvent himself a bit. He might not be able to run as much as he has. Newton has never shied away from contact as a runner, and that can’t last forever. Questions about what type of quarterback he can be going forward, as well as his health, could limit his options in a trade.

But it’s also not common for a player of Newton’s age and ability to be available in a trade. The Panthers decided it was time for a change.

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