In a blink of an eye, after nine seasons, which included three division titles, a Super Bowl appearance, the best record in franchise history and a Most Valuable Player award, the Cam Newton Era with Carolina is over.
The Pro Bowl quarterback was released on Tuesday afternoon.
Newton had one year, $19.1 million remaining on his contract. The Panthers will save $17.1 million and still owe him $2 million.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the Panthers tried to send Newton to the Chicago Bears and Los Angeles Chargers in a trade but they found no takers.
"It's personal. I'm hungry. Hungrier," Newton said in a video on his Instagram on Monday. "I'm unemployed."
Newton, 31, leaves the relatively young franchise as the team’s all-time leader in passing yards and touchdowns with 29,041 and 182, respectively.
"Cam has meant a lot to this organization and the Carolinas," general manager Marty Hurney said. "Everyone saw his performances on the field. I had the privilege of seeing how hard he worked off the field, and his commitment to this team when no one was watching. He's the ultimate competitor and it physically hurts him to lose. He willed this team to victory on many occasions and will always be considered one of the greatest players in the history of this franchise. His contributions to this team, this community and the game of football will leave a lasting impact on our organization."
Newton erupted when he entered the league, taking over a 2-14 Panthers team and becoming the first rookie quarterback ever to pass for more than 400 yards in his debut.
He finished his rookie season with 4,031 yards, 21 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. He also rushed for 706 yards and 14 touchdowns. As a result, Newton was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of The Year and was picked as an alternate to the Pro Bowl.
He went on to help guide the team to a 6-10 record.
Off the field, Newton quickly became one of the faces of the league with his outgoing personality, which also created a divide between fans.
Many either hated him or loved him. He would always give the football to kids after scoring a touchdown, make Superman gestures, created the “Dab,” and seem to always have a smile on his face more often than not.
But he also would be seen sulking on the sideline at times while losing with a towel on his head and not talking to his teammates. There was a time when he made a comment to a local female reporter about it “being funny” to hear women talk about football.
There never seemed to be an in-between.
In his third season in 2013, Newton led the Panthers to a 12-4 record and an NFC South title, before losing to San Francisco in the Divisional Round.
The Panthers became the first NFC South team to win three-straight division titles, even while having a 7-8-1 record in 2014. That was also the season when Newton underwent ankle surgery and was involved in a car accident that fractured two vertebrae, causing him to miss just three games.
The following offseason, Newton agreed to a five-year, $103.8 million contract extension and followed it up with an MVP season.
Newton threw for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdowns and only 10 interceptions. He finished with a career-high 99.4 passer rating. He also rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.
As a result, the Panthers started the season 14-0, before losing to the Falcons to finish the year 15-1 and rolled through the playoffs and reached the Super Bowl for the second time in franchise history.
Following the season, Newton underwent surgery for a torn rotator cuff.
In 2017, the Panthers went 11-5 and made a return trip to the playoffs, but they lost to division rival New Orleans.
Things really took a turn for the worse the next two seasons, which wound up being his last in Carolina.
First, hedge-fund billionaire David Tepper purchased the team in 2018. Things looked bright as the Panthers started off with a 6-2 record as Newton was putting together one of his most accurate seasons passing.
But after taking a big hit to the same shoulder he’d had surgery on some 18 months earlier, Newton struggled the rest of the year.
The Panthers lost seven-straight games and Newton was benched the last two games, before once again undergoing right shoulder surgery.
Entering last season, questions swirled about whether Newton could ever be the same.
That speculation and wonder would never get answered as Newton sustained a foot injury in the team’s third preseason game. He only played a handful of plays and it was the only preseason game in which he appeared.
He had sustained a Lisfranc injury.
Even so, Newton started the first two games of the season and it was evident from the get-go that something was amiss. Not only was he hobbling, but it was also difficult to determine if his shoulder injury had healed.
Carolina lost both games.
Making matters worse was the fact that Newton later admitted in a video posted to YouTube that he had hidden the severity of the injury from coaches and team doctors.
Newton was benched to try and heal the injury and it later became apparent that his sitting was going to be prolonged. In the midst of the season, Newton was placed on injured reserve, thus ending his entire year.
With the team floundering at 5-7, Tepper made his first big move as owner and fired head coach Ron Rivera, who is the only coach Newton had played for.
Carolina finished the year 5-11 and the team became completely dismantled.
Newton finishes his career in Carolina with 29,041 passing yards, 182 passing touchdowns, 108 interceptions, while completing 59.6 percent of his passes and an 86.1 passer rating. On the ground, Newton leaves 4,806 rushing yards and 58 touchdowns, which is the most by a quarterback in league history.
"Cam is one of the all-time greats in Panthers history," owner David Tepper said. "If you ask any of our fans for some of their most memorable moments, I'm willing to bet that most of them would include Cam. Electrifying plays, giving away footballs after touchdowns, fun celebrations and big wins. His competitiveness and drive are rare. Off the field, you can't measure Cam's contributions. He has touched the lives of youth throughout the Carolinas and in Atlanta. He's unique and we wish him all the best."