Cam Newton Reunites With Carolina Panthers on One-Year Contract

The 4-5 Panthers needed a quarterback and 32-year-old Newton needed a team to play for

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter of their game at Bank of America Stadium on September 12, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Could Cam Newton soon be back with the Panthers?
Grant Halverson/Getty

UPDATED: Following the publication of an earlier version of this piece about the two sides meeting, the Panthers and Cam Newton agreed to a one-year deal.

“The Panthers on Thursday agreed to terms (pending a physical) with veteran quarterback Cam Newton, giving them an opportunity to stabilize their offense at a time when so many other things are going well, and the playoffs are still a realistic possibility with nearly half the season remaining,” per the team’s website. “Bringing back the former No. 1 overall pick fits the profile of a team that has been willing to move aggressively, including making 13 trades this calendar year alone. There are no guarantees the 32-year-old Newton could be a long-term answer. But this isn’t about the years to come, or the things he’s done in the past. This is about now, and maximizing the opportunity for the 2021 Panthers.”

Wandering in the wilderness of NFL free agency since being cut by the Patriots in late August after starting all three preseason games for New England and playing reasonably well, Cam Newton may be returning to the town he called home for nearly a decade.

According to The Charlotte Observer, the 32-year-old quarterback (who has gotten vaccinated since missing time in the preseason after a COVID-19 related misunderstanding) will meet with Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, team owner David Tepper and Carolina vice president of football operations Steven Drummond on Thursday to discuss signing with the club.

The Panthers, who started the season 3-0 but have lost five of their last six games and will be without starting quarterback Sam Darnold for multiple weeks due to a shoulder injury, are desperate for help under center as Carolina currently has former XFL quarterback P.J. Walker as QB1 with veteran Matt Barkley backing him up.

When discussing the timetable for a return for Darnold, who is tied for the league lead with 11 interceptions and ranks 31st of 33 qualified quarterbacks with a 71.4 passer rating, Rhule mentioned that the Panthers would explore “any and all options.”

“I won’t get into any hypotheticals, I’ll probably just talk about the guys on the roster,” Rhule said earlier this week. “But our job is to try to win, so we’re going to evaluate and talk to whatever we think is possibly out there. But in terms of specific comments, I’d just talk about our team.”

By the end of the day, that team could include Newton, who started 15 games and ran for 12 touchdowns last season with the Patriots, but struggled to throw the ball and passed for just eight touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

Should he sign with the Panthers, the 2015 NFL MVP would likely be asked to hand off the ball and complete quick check-down throws to dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey, Carolina’s best player by far. Far from the player he was when he threw 35 touchdowns and ran for 10 more while leading the Panthers to the second Super Bowl in team history, Newton is still capable of running an NFL offense and would be a clear upgrade over Walker or Barkley as long as he isn’t asked to do too much or relied upon to complete precision passes downfield.

Prior to spending last season with the Patriots, Newton threw for 29,041 yards with 182 passing touchdowns and 111 interceptions in nine seasons with the Panthers. It’ll be interesting to see how he does if he returns for a 10th.

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