Newton, who put off surgery as long as he could, hopes to be fully able and ready by March when his future will be decided.
Newton is due just $18.6 million for 2019, a cheap asset that Carolina hasn't ruled out holding onto if he can show he can be himself again. In today's game, nearly $19 million for a starting QB is not expensive.
However, the expectation is that the Panthers will attempt to trade Newton this offseason provided they can get a large deal to make it worth their while. In what could be the most active QB market in years, Newton -- if healthy -- could be the centerpiece. That, of course, would depend on what happens to Tom Brady, Philip Rivers, and Drew Brees.
They won't give him away, but with Kyle Allen showing potential and Will Grier possessing traits that led the Panthers to grade him better than the third-rounder he was, they have options. And a top option is for the new coach and still general manager Marty Hurney to move on from the former MVP Newton, collect a bounty of picks, and start fresh.
What could the price be?
A top-notch coordinator, sure, and someone with an eye toward athletic performance analysis during practice and analytics. But mostly, someone to manage people.
Patriots OC Josh McDaniels and special teams coordinator and WRs coach Joe Judge, ex-Packers coach Mike McCarthy, Vikings OC Kevin Stefanski, 49ers DC Robert Saleh, Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, Ravens OC Greg Roman, Colts OC Nick Sirianni and DC Matt Eberflus, Saints DC Dennis Allen, and Bills OC Brian Daboll are among the group that will likely be considered. There will be some wildcards, too.
But more so than good coordinators, the hope will be to find someone who is not afraid to figure out a better and more efficient way to do things. To admit a mistake and move on. To say, this isn't working, let's fix it.
Those types of qualities will be essential. Someone who can manage people and run an operation. Panthers owner David Tepper waited two years to put his stamp on the football side, and the next few months will determine what the franchise will look like.