Harper: Panthers didn’t give Newton “a chance to have a real free agency”

Roman Harper understands why the Panthers moved on from Cam Newton, who looks like his old self in New England, but he didn’t like the timing of it

Zach Gelb
September 23, 2020 - 8:49 am
Cam Newton Patriots

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Through two games of the 2020 season, Cam Newton has looked like the dynamic weapon he was for almost a decade in Carolina. 

Newton has completed 71.4 percent of his passes for 552 yards, rushed 26 times for 122 yards, and has five touchdowns (one pass, four rush) and one interception for the New England Patriots (1-1). That's phenomenal production for a guy with a base salary of $1.05 million this season.

It’s fair to wonder if the Carolina Panthers (0-2), who released Newton in March, pulled the plug on the former No. 1 pick too early. Did it make sense to cut Newton with one year remaining on his deal?

“I understand the decision because that’s what they wanted to do,” Super Bowl champion Roman Harper said on The Zach Gelb Show. “The timing of it is the only question mark I have because you didn’t give a chance for Cam to have a real free agency. He got released when all the quarterbacks had already started to sign and we knew what teams were vying for guys in the draft and Cam kind of got left out there. Lucky for [New England]. Overall, I didn’t like the timing of it, but as an organization, you’re able to make those decisions, those tough decisions. You’ve got a new owner, a new coach, you’re allowed to do whatever you want with that. So that part of it did not shock me at all.”

Harper who won a Super Bowl with the Saints, spent two years in Carolina, including Newton’s 2015 MVP season. The Panthers reached Super Bowl 50, ultimately losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos.

“If I’m a teammate, I’m probably having a little bit of question marks,” Harper said of Newton’s release, “because all that does is let me know my antennas need to be up because everybody is on the chopping block. If Cam can get cut or let go, that means everybody’s available to get cut or let go. That means I need to focus in. I want to make sure I’m doing and saying all the right things with this new staff because they’re not beyond letting anybody go.”

The Patriots host the Raiders (2-0) this Sunday, while the Panthers will try to get in the win column against the Chargers (1-1). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. ET, respectively.