The Panthers are moving forward with the presumption that Newton will be their starting quarterback in 2020, sources told Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who also said, "A lot can still happen in the coming months."
New Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and his staff have reportedly been encouraged by Newton's commitment to rehabbing his foot injury and ensuring he returns to "top form." Rapoport added Tuesday that Newton won't be game-ready for several months, which complicates any potential trade.
The quarterback missed 14 contests last season with the Lisfranc injury to his left foot, the first significant absence of his career. Newton battled a shoulder ailment in 2018 but only sat out two games.
Panthers owner David Tepper, who took over the team in 2018, fired longtime head coach Ron Rivera in December. With Newton entering the final year of his contract, there's been speculation that the NFC South team could be heading for a major rebuild.
While it appears Carolina is on track to have Newton back for 2020, it remains to be seen whether the team will grant the veteran an extension or let him play out his contract year.
Tepper previously said that Newton's rehab would determine Carolina's status at quarterback in 2020. The Panthers reportedly believe the 30-year-old is likely to pass his physical and will be cleared for some football activity in March.
Before his injury-filled 2019, Newton enjoyed one of his best statistical seasons in 2018, setting a career high in completion percentage (67.9%) and producing his second-best passer rating (94.2), trailing only his MVP-winning season in 2015.