Panthers' Matt Rhule doesn't rule out Cam Newton in '20

Rhule: Newton is one of the best winners the NFL's ever seen (0:32)

Matt Rhule is looking forward to working with Cam Newton if he gets the opportunity to do so. (0:32)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- New Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule didn't rule out having Cam Newton as his quarterback in 2020.

Newton, 30, is recovering from left foot surgery and there is uncertainty about how long the recovery will take. The 2015 NFL MVP also is entering the final year of his contract.

That combination has sparked speculation that the Panthers might release or try to trade Newton to save $19.1 million under the salary cap. Rhule, during his introductory news conference Wednesday, said he needed time to study the roster and would have to talk to general manager Marty Hurney and owner David Tepper about long-term plans, as they pertain to Newton.

Asked specifically during a one-one-one with ESPN if Newton is in Carolina's future plans, Rhule said: "I certainly look forward to working with him. I hope so. But I don't know enough about, really, everything that's kinda happening right now.''

The former Baylor coach, who received a seven-year deal that could reach up to $70 million with incentives, talked to Newton by phone Tuesday.

"He's a tremendous player. He's a tremendous winner. He's done a lot of great things,'' Rhule said of Newton. "... If I have a chance to coach him, I know exactly that I'm getting one of the best guys, best winners that the NFL's seen.''

Newton has a record of 68-55-1 as a starter since being selected as the top pick of the 2011 draft. That includes eight straight losses since suffering a shoulder injury during the second half of the 2018 season and suffering a Lisfranc injury this past season that shut him down after an 0-2 start.

When he began his search to replace coach Ron Rivera, Tepper said that a healthy Newton still could lead the Panthers to the Super Bowl and that the quarterback's return to health was the first objective.

Tepper all but avoided answering questions about Newton on Wednesday.

"The vision is to get the best out of anybody who is best on this team,'' Tepper said.

Hurney said Newton's situation was something everyone would have to talk about after Rhule learned more about the roster.

"We've got a guy who was MVP in the NFL. [Rhule] knows that,'' Hurney said. "This is all going to be a process. He's going to have to get to know these guys and the roster.''

Rhule adapted his style at Baylor and Temple to whatever type of quarterback he had. His Temple teams were centered on the running game.

At Baylor, he ran more of a spread offense and used the run-pass option (RPO) that Carolina has run the past two-plus seasons.

Rhule jokingly called the RPO his "deal with the devil,'' in that it was a change from his initial philosophy.

"I'm one of those guys, if I could, I'd run the ball and be really dynamic," Rhule said. "But RPOs, you see them now in the NFL game as much as anything else; it's a tremendous opportunity to spread it out, to have a dynamic run game, and get the ball in the second level, get the ball on the perimeter.

"So if I could, I'd just kind of grind it and pound it, but that's not really football today. I've had to adapt, and it's been really good for me."