NFL: Carolina Panthers-Training Camp

Jul 25, 2019; Spartanburg, SC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) passes the ball during training camp held at Wofford College. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

One of Cam Newton's former teammates said he thinks the Carolina Panthers erred multiple times in regard to their treatment of the quarterback.

Retired three-time Pro Bowl fullback Mike Tolbert told The Athletic on Monday that the Panthers mismanaged Newton both before and during his departure.

When asked if the team erred by waiting to release Newton relatively late in free agency, Tolbert was blunt with his response. "Yes," he said.

Tolbert, 34, didn't stop there, however.

"They've been doing him wrong timing-wise for the past two or three years, if you ask me," said Tolbert, who played with the Panthers from 2012-16.

"It goes back to his shoulder surgery. Everyone knew his shoulder was messed up in the middle of the year two years ago. But they wait until offseason gets ready to start to have shoulder surgery. Makes no sense. Timing's off. As soon as he got hurt (last) preseason against the Patriots, they were saying, 'Oh, he's got a high-ankle sprain.' ... But you wait 'til December for him to beg you to have surgery. He shouldn't have been out there Week 1 and 2. He shouldn't have been out there probably 'til Week 4 or 5, at minimum."

Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, has yet to sign with another team since the Panthers saved $19.1 million in salary-cap space by releasing him on March 24.

The 31-year-old Newton is coming off of Lisfranc surgery and had a shoulder operation prior to the 2019 season.

In limited action in 2019, Newton passed for 572 yards, no touchdowns and one interception. Overall, he has thrown for 29,041 yards, 182 touchdowns and 108 interceptions in 125 games (124 starts). He also has rushed for 4,806 yards and 58 scores.

Newton was the NFL MVP in 2015 when he passed for 3,837 yards and a career-best 35 touchdowns while leading Carolina to the Super Bowl. He was intercepted 10 times and also rushed for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns.

--Field Level Media

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