Panthers won't make decision on Newton until healthy

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Cam Newton's 2019 season is finished, but his future beyond this year remains unclear.

Panthers owner David Tepper gave an excellent reason as to why when speaking with a roundtable of Charlotte-area reporters Monday. Carolina will not make any decision on Newton's future until he is fully healthy, Tepper said, per The Athletic's Joe Person.

It's only right to wait until Newton is fully healthy, of course, because there's no other legitimate way for management get a full understanding of where the former NFL MVP stands at this point in his career. Until then, the issue will have to remain on the shelf. With six weeks left in the regular season, that's fine, even if it doesn't help the Panthers during the remaining Sundays of 2019.

The Kyle Allen era was gaining strength as a potential option beyond this season -- until the most recent Sunday arrived. Allen threw four interceptions in a 29-3 loss to Atlanta and seriously called into question his viability as an NFL starter, both next week and next year.

The folks in the "trade Cam" stronghold found themselves nervous Sunday evening after their chosen replacement posted the second-worst passer rating of his career (47.5) and brought his three-game TD-INT ratio to 3-6 as the Panthers fell to 5-5 on the year. The clearly visible path to a positive future without Newton became overgrown rather quickly, leaving everyone to reconsider where the Panthers might go next.

Again, though, there is time. Newton is spending the remainder of this calendar year healing up, considering surgery to repair the Lisfranc injury as recently as last week.

His financial situation -- owed $18.6 million plus a $2 million option bonus in 2020 -- makes him a likely candidate to be traded. Allen's recent struggles would make such a trade more difficult for the Panthers to bear.

Carolina won't have to face that reality until the new year, though, when Newton is healthy, ready to be evaluated and perhaps ready to pack some boxes for shipping. These break-ups are never easy and typically arrive with a suddenness that makes it all the more painful. At least this one might include a little more time for preparation.

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