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Cam Newton's surgery highlights need for backup QB

The Carolina Panthers did not put a timeline on Cam Newton's offseason availability after Thursday's shoulder surgery. The hope is that he won't miss a ton of time.

The initial word is that Newton's surgery was "minor" -- a characterization much easier to make when you are not the one getting your body cut open.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday on Good Morning Football that the hope is that the quarterback will be throwing by OTAs and be ready for training camp.

Hope, however, can be blown into the abyss by a stiff breeze.

Newton electing for surgery early this offseason stands in contrast to 2017 when he waited until March to undergo a more invasive rotator cuff procedure. The quarterback indicated during the 2018 campaign that his shoulder issue lingered from that same injury during the 2016 season.

If rushing back last time hurt his long-term progress, the Panthers should learn from that experience and allow Newton as much time as he needs to rest the shoulder before beginning to throw again -- offseason timelines be damned.

As we saw with the Indianapolis Colts and Andrew Luck, sometimes taking a long-term approach to a shoulder injury is the best move for a quarterback and franchise, even if he's a bitter pill to swallow in the moment.

Given that Newton's surgery is considered "minor," the comparison to Luck isn't apples-to-apples, but the experience should at least flavor the Panthers offseason decisions.

Those choices start with the backup quarterback.

Rapoport noted that Newton's situation puts the Panthers in a position that necessitates adding a proven backup. Last year, the Panthers rolled with Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen behind Newton.

Nick Foles appears poised to be atop the free-agent signal-caller list in a depressed market and should become a starter, not a backup. Could Teddy Bridgewater be an option if he can't land a starting gig? Options like Tyrod Tylor and Ryan Fitzpatrick would provide veterans with starting experience. Further down the list would be the likes of Brock Osweiler or Matt Cassel as veterans that have starting experience but wouldn't provide much winning upside. A trade for a backup wouldn't be out of the question either, especially if Newton's situation becomes murkier as the summer presses on -- as the Colts made in acquiring Jacoby Brissett.

While the Panthers hope that Newton will be fine within the next seven months, finding a reliable insurance policy is a must this offseason.

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