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Preparing For Life After Cam Newton

It’s time to start thinking about what comes after Cam Newton. Let’s be clear, no one is suggesting that the Panthers should move on from Newton in the short term. That would be crazy.

For all the baggage that comes with him, Newton is one of the best in the NFL, and the leader on the field. In many respects, he had another great season in 2017, throwing for 3,302 yards and 22 touchdowns, and he was the main factor in getting them into the Wild Card game.

There is some room for improvement though. If the Panthers are going to move up in the rankings among NFL bettors who bet on Stakers, Newton needs to work on his accuracy, which fell to 52.9 percent last season. Norv Turner should be able to help with that.

However, Cam won’t be around forever. Sure, he’s only 28, but he has taken a lot of big hits in his career. Prior to the last campaign, since joining the NFL in 2011 he has been hit or sacked 922 times. The next guy on the list, Russell Wilson, has taken 615 hits. Yes, that’s how Cam plays, but there are only so many big hits that one athlete can take.

How should the Panthers prepare for a post-Newton world? Derek Anderson has been Newton’s backup since 2011, but he turns 35 in June. Garrett Gilbert is still there, but the suspicion is that the Panthers don’t see him as the answer in the long term, and that leaves them with a tricky decision – bring in a quarterback through free agency, trading, or the draft.

The Panthers haven’t drafted anyone in that position since 2011, making them the only franchise in the NFL not to have taken a quarterback at the draft in the last six years. Even New England and Green Bay have picked up two apiece since 2012.

This year’s draft is considered to be a strong one for quarterbacks. Three could make the top-ten picks and up to six could be taken in the first two rounds. The Panthers have the 24th pick, and it is likely that they will want to address their other more pressing weaknesses, bringing in a wide receiver, running back, or even a defensive end. However, with two third-round and three seventh-round picks, they may well look for a quarterback with huge potential. There are a number of candidates who could fit the bill, including Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State, Washington State’s Luke Falk, and Chase Litton from Marshall.

The other option would be to look for another young quarterback as a free agent or a trade for Anderson. Finding a player with Newtonesque potential who has been overlooked would be a tall order though, and trading Anderson would leave the team short of experienced backup. Given their long run of not taking quarterbacks at the draft, it seems more likely that the Panthers will opt for drafting Newton’s replacement this year, laying the foundations for a successful future.

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