Cam Newton's 2019 season has come to an end. His future in Charlotte, however, is a question that will linger for the coming months.
The Carolina Panthers announced Tuesday they have placed the quarterback on injured reserve with a foot injury that has kept the former MVP out since Week 2.
"For the past seven weeks, Cam has diligently followed a program of rest and rehab and still is experiencing pain in his foot," general manager Marty Hurney said in a statement. "He saw two foot specialists last week who agreed that he should continue that path prescribed by the team's medical staff, and that it likely will take significant time for the injury to fully heal.
"We have said all along that it is impossible to put a timetable on this injury. Nobody is more frustrated with that fact than Cam. He's one of the fiercest competitors I've been around during my 20-plus years in the league. At this time, we have decided that the best decision to reach the goal of bringing the foot back to 100 percent is to place Cam on injured reserve."
Tuesday's statement ends weeks of mystery and speculation on whether Newton would return at some point this season. Panthers coach Ron Rivera continually kept Newton's status as a week-to-week proposition, declining to give reporters any firm updates on his quarterback's progress as Newton rehabbed his lingering foot injury. NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported this past Sunday that Newton would use the weekend to consider his recovery options and would be sidelined at least several more weeks.
Now, intrigue gives way to the certainty that Newton is out for the rest of the season and it's Kyle Allen's show for the remainder of 2019.
Newton is coming off back-to-back injury-shortened seasons (he missed the final two games of last season with a right shoulder injury), and has undergone shoulder surgery in each of the past two offseasons. He has one year remaining on his current deal, and is due $19.1 million in 2020 with a salary cap hit of $21.1 million. Newton's $19.1 million, however, is not guaranteed, and the Panthers would endure just $2 million in dead money if they opted to release him this offseason.
Going that route would mark an unceremonious end for the greatest and most decorated quarterback -- and perhaps player -- in franchise history.
Newton holds franchise records for both passing and rushing touchdowns (182 and 58, respectively). He led the Panthers to a 15-1 record in 2015 and won league MVP honors before losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50. Before that, he earned Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2011.
But Newton's play has suffered as the injuries have mounted, and the team won't have the luxury of seeing what a healthy Cam can do on the field before having to make a decision on his contract.
But that's a question for another day. For now, the Panthers will mount a playoff push with Allen, 5-1 as a starter this season, as a decision on Newton awaits.