Jimmy Clausen kept his jersey (No. 2), but may have played his way out of the second spot on Carolina’s depth chart.
Rookie Cam Newton, who wore No. 2 in college and switched to No. 1, will be the opening day starter when the Panthers open the season at Arizona on Sept. 11. Although Clausen started the first preseason game, he really never had much of a shot at the full-time job. It would have taken a horrible preseason by Newton and a great one by Clausen for the second-year pro to win the starting job.
Neither of those things happened and Clausen was the third man in the rotation in Thursday night’s preseason finale. Veteran Derek Anderson followed Newton and played well.
We don’t know anything for sure yet on who Carolina’s backup is, but it very likely could be Anderson. The Panthers are willing to take their lumps with Newton early because he’s their future. Only an injury would get him out of the lineup and it’s very possible the Panthers would turn to Anderson first in that situation.
Anderson has history with offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski. They were together in Cleveland and Anderson knows the system better than any of Carolina’s quarterbacks.
So where does that leave Clausen? Well, let’s just say the options aren’t great.
The Panthers could go with Clausen as the No. 3 quarterback and that means there’s a chance he never gets on the field this year.
They could try to trade him and there are teams out there with worse quarterbacks at No. 3, maybe even at No. 2. But how much value does Clausen have right now? Not a lot. At best, he’d bring a very late draft pick. I don’t think the Panthers are ready to part with a guy who was a second-round pick last year for a seventh-round pick in 2012. Besides, Carolina needs a third quarterback and there’s no one else in the picture.
The best thing -- maybe the only thing -- the Panthers can do right now is keep Clausen. Let him start off the season as the No. 3 quarterback. Maybe he starts showing more in practice and maybe injuries happen in front of him. In that scenario, Clausen might get a chance at playing time.
If he does, that’s when he could really drive up his trade value for next year. If he doesn’t, the Panthers can always try to showcase him in next year’s preseason.