Cam Newton’s Panthers divorce quickly got ugly

The quarterback market just became a lot more interesting.

Not long after the Panthers announced they had given Cam Newton permission to seek a trade, the 30-year-old quarterback is claiming that it was the team who “forced” him into the situation, not the other way around.

“Stop with the word play!! I never asked for it!!” Newton wrote on Instagram in his standard typeface. “There is no dodging this one; I love the @panthers to death and will always love you guys!! Please do not try to play me, or manipulate the narrative and act like I wanted this; you forced me into this!!”

A trade would end Newton’s nine-year tenure with the franchise and is only the latest development in a tumultuous free-agency frenzy. Earlier in the day, Tom Brady announced he’s leaving the Patriots.

“One of the distinct pleasures of my career was selecting Cam with the first pick in the 2011 draft,” Panthers GM Marty Hurney said. “Every year difficult decisions are made and they are never easy. We have been working with Cam and his agent to find the best fit for him moving forward and he will always be a Carolina Panther in our hearts.”

Newton, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2011 NFL Draft, played just two games last season because of a left foot injury that required surgery. The three-time Pro Bowler was the NFL MVP in 2015, leading the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance that season. They ultimately lost to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

The Panthers are ushering in a new era under former Baylor coach Matt Rhule, and ESPN reports the team is showing “very strong interest” in free agent Teddy Bridgewater.

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