Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is set to undergo ankle surgery on Wednesday, according to SportsXchange's Bill Voth. The quarterback has been hampered by the injury since Week 16, when he was sacked and strained his ankle ligaments, which caused him to limp for the remainder of the season. The surgery is expected to keep Newton from practicing for four months, per Voth.
The offseason has been a rough one for the Panthers coming off their first postseason appearance with Newton and head coach Ron Rivera. The team has seen long-time offensive tackle Jordan Gross retire and he also dropped long-time face of the franchise, wide receiver Steve Smith, from the roster. Wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn Jr. have also signed elsewhere, as has starting safety Mike Mitchell.
Newton's lack of weapons will likely lead to an offensive splurge in May's draft. The Panthers need a new left tackle for Newton's blindside and at least three wide receivers. On top of that, Newton will not be able to practice with the hypothetical newly-acquired receivers, as his surgery will keep him out until at least August.
Newton is coming off his most successful season in the NFL, so this procedure is coming at the worst time. Rehabbing an injury typically takes away the ability to train for the season in a routine that is familiar for a player. It will remain a major storyline for Carolina's training camp and perhaps the season.
However, Cat Scratch Reader's James Dator is optimistic about the move but understands how it will look to the fan base:
It's relatively small news in the grand scheme of things, but another disappointment for Panthers fans who have endured many letdowns over the first week of free agency. Expectations have been doused thanks to the lack of a top receiver after cutting Steve Smith and the team will lean more on Newton to take on a greater leadership role in 2014. This isn't a "sky is falling" moment, but if there are any delays in his recovery it could be devastating.