As change has swept through the Carolina Panthers organization, Shaq Thompson and his teammates are welcoming a new quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater while simultaneously bidding farewell to Cam Newton.
Thompson is equally excited and confident in each of the signal-callers and how well they'll do with their new franchises, telling NFL Network's Colleen Wolfe on Wednesday's NFL Total Access that Bridgewater "is back" to the talent who was a Pro Bowler with the Vikings and that Newton "still has it" as he heads to New England.
"Man, I was happy for Cam," Thompson said of Newton signing with the Patriots. "I hated that it took so long for him to get signed. He's an MVP quarterback. Cam still has it. And I'm happy for him, I'm glad the Patriots invested in him and I can't wait to see Cam Newton come out there and play."
Following nine seasons as the face of the Panthers, Newton was released by Carolina in the aftermath of a 2019 season in which he played just two games due to a Lisfranc injury.
In his five autumns with Carolina, the 26-year-old Thompson -- a Panthers first-round pick just like Newton -- has never played on a roster without Newton leading the way. Nonetheless, he's reveling in the possibilities of having the old Bridgewater provide new hope for the Panthers.
"I think Teddy's definitely going to come in and change the offense. He has great weapons," Thompson said. "His start with the Saints, 5-0, was just incredible. It just shows you that the Teddy that Minnesota had drafted back then is back. I'm happy to see that. I've always been a fan of Teddy, especially when he was at Louisville. So, I'm happy to have him as a teammate. I know that he has a lot of tremendous weapons around him and we built that offensive line so he could feel comfortable in the pocket."
The Panthers are coming off a 5-11 season, their second losing campaign in a row. Having failed to win a playoff game since reaching Super Bowl 50, Carolina is amid a major renovation. As aforementioned, Bridgewater went 5-0 in relief of an injured Drew Brees last year for the NFC North-rival Saints. A Pro Bowl pick in just his second season in the NFL after Minnesota drafted him in the 2014 first round, Bridgewater flashed the brilliance the Vikings had hoped would come to fruition in the form of a franchise quarterback before disaster found him. Having suffered a torn ACL ahead of the 2016 season, Bridgewater's comeback story is still going strong and the hope is just as he's had his knee and career rebuilt, he can provide the necessary tools for the Panthers' rebuild.
Meanwhile, Newton, a former NFL Most Valuable Player and a transcendent talent within the league, is headed for New England, looking to rebuild his career, as well, while maintaining the Patriots' dynastic ways.
As it relates to Bridgewater and Newton, comeback stories and rebuilding lie ahead and Thompson believes both are ready and able to find success in their undertakings.