Carolina Panthers

Panthers analysis: Despite Cam Newton’s struggles, QB roster seems set for 2017

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1), despite his struggles in 2016, is entrenched, and his backups are both under contract.
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1), despite his struggles in 2016, is entrenched, and his backups are both under contract. AP

Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said on Tuesday that the staff would spend two weeks analyzing the team, looking to avoid hasty, emotional decisions. The Observer will do the same, position by position. Up next: Quarterbacks.

On the roster

▪  Cam Newton: The 2015 league MVP took a major step backward this season, finishing with career lows in completion percentage, passer rating, rushing attempts and rushing yards. Newton’s struggles have prompted the Panthers to re-examine their offense, with Ron Rivera saying he wants to cut down on the zone-read plays but still find ways to use Newton’s unique skill set.

▪  Derek Anderson: Newton’s backup for his first six seasons in Carolina is under contract for 2017 and is expected to be back. Anderson didn’t fare so well when Newton was in the concussion protocol for a Week 5 game vs. Tampa Bay. Anderson threw two interceptions in the 17-14 loss.

▪  Joe Webb: The Panthers carried three quarterbacks for the third consecutive year. And for the third year in a row, Webb did not take a regular-season snap behind center. He was the backup for the Week 17 loss at Tampa Bay when Anderson missed with an illness, but didn’t play. A big special-teams contributor, he’s probably on the roster again next season.

Three things to know

▪  Shouldering the blame: Cam Newton’s throwing shoulder clearly bothered him the latter part of the season. It doesn’t explain away his (at times) sloppy mechanics or questionable decision-making, but his deep throws and sideline passes lacked their usual zip. Newton and the Panthers say he doesn’t need surgery.

▪  Offseason plans: Newton spent a big chunk of last offseason in L.A. filming his Nickelodeon children’s show, “All in with Cam Newton.” Nickelodeon hasn’t announced whether there will be a second season of the show, although Newton sounded like he’d be up for another year if it’s green-lighted.

▪  Dual threat: Newton fell just short of Peyton Manning’s record of total yards (passing and running) for a quarterback over his first six seasons. Manning had 25,467 total yards after six years, and Newton’s total stands at 25,338.

The bottom line

Typically these analyses include possible acquisitions via free agency and the draft for the Panthers. But when you’ve invested in $103.8 million in your starter – no matter Cam’s struggles in 2016 – and the two backups are both under contract, this is not a position of need. Could the Panthers bring in another QB (they had Oakland backup Matt McGloin in a rookie minicamp a few years ago) to replace Anderson, 33, or Webb? Sure. But the coaches generally like the chemistry in the QB room and will more than likely stand pat. The big picture is getting Newton comfortable and confident in a revamped offense.

Previous position analyses

Joseph Person: 704-358-5123, @josephperson

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