"Listen, I'm not a doctor," Tepper said, according to Steve Reed of The Associated Press. "I said it a million times: Is he healthy? He's not a doctor. So there is a lot of different things that can happen. Tell me that and then we can talk."
Injuries have derailed Newton's last two seasons, as he was limited to just two games in 2019 due to a foot issue. He underwent surgery Dec. 11 after a failed rehabilitation that spanned multiple months.
"The overwhelming No. 1 thing is to see how healthy he is, and how we can figure out when he is healthy or not," Tepper added. "Everything comes from that."
Newton, who'll turn 31 in May, has one season left on his contract. The Panthers could save $19 million against the salary cap by trading or releasing him. However, Tepper said Carolina hasn't fielded any trade inquiries for Newton.
Before Super Bowl LIV, Newton said he "absolutely" expects to return to the Panthers in 2020 and left a meeting with Tepper and new head coach Matt Rhule feeling "inspired."
Newton, drafted first overall in 2011, was named league MVP in 2015.