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The Carolina Panthers announced quarterback Cam Newton will undergo ankle surgery on Wednesday to address lingering soreness that has bothered him since the team’s playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers in January.
Going under the knife isn’t even the worst news for Newton this offseason.
Newton was a fantasy phenom his rookie season, and despite quarterbacking a dreadful offense, his sophomore season managed to produce quality numbers. And again, as the Panthers returned to contention last year, Newton was leading fantasy teams to championships (and probably winning some people some old Little League trophies, too).
But now Newton is undergoing surgery, meaning there’s a chance he just isn’t the same come the 2014. The team announced there is a four-month recovery period, which makes mid-July — around the time of OTAs and nearing the start of training camp — the estimated time he’ll be “fully recovered.”
If in fact that’s true, he’ll be thrown into the mix with a new cast of wide receivers forced to develop some form of chemistry in about a month’s time — and that’s assuming he jumps right back under center and is practicing at 100 percent in his return to the field.
It’s unlikely the Panthers rushing Newton to do that. He’s their franchise player and really the only offensive weapon they’ve got left.
Now factor in Carolina’s nonchalant offseason. The team lost about half of its offensive line, including tackle Jordan Gross. The franchise’s best receiver is now hauling in passes from Joe Flacco, and the other cast of characters — Brandon LaFell, Ted Ginn Jr., and Domenik Hixon — just traded in their Carolina blue for new uniforms.
Who knows who Newton will be throwing passes to next season? There’s not too much left on the free-agent market. The best hope is a veteran like Kenny Britt or Sidney Rice, and at this point in their careers what can you really expect of those wideouts that have not been productive in quite some time.
So if the question is do I want to spend my first- or second-round pick in my fantasy draft on a quarterback fresh off of surgery that lost four receivers and half its offensive, then my answer, plain and simple, is no.
With so many other intriguing options available — including quarterbacks that I can grab later in the draft like a Matthew Stafford or Colin Kaepernick, even Tom Brady at this point — why am I going to risk it by taking Newton, early, and not knowing how productive he’ll be at the start of the season, if he won’t be on his backside and who in the world he’ll be throwing passing to.
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