Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule want to improve on last season’s 5-12 record. A big reason for the team’s poor play was quarterback Sam Darnold, who was 33rd among all quarterbacks in DVOA, and an offensive line ranked 25th.
But the Panthers are willing to make things in the quarterbacks room a little more competitive. The team is willing to bring back former MVP Cam Newton if the quarterback is willing to take less money and knows he won’t be entering camp as the starter.
The 2015 MVP and Offensive Player of the Year was an All-Pro and three-time Pro-Bowl player. He is not the player he once was, as injuries have hampered his ability over the past several years. But he can still be very valuable if in the right situation.
“I think we’re still having thoughts,” Fitterer said this month to ProFootballTalk. “We have to see how this works out here throughout the spring. I just happened to be up at the [Kentucky] Derby last weekend and Cam was up there. We’re texting a little bit. The lines of communication are open. I know Coach Rhule has spoken with him. We are going to have a discussion at some point but we’re just not quite there yet, but we’ll see how it goes.”
The Panthers have Darnold and drafted Matt Corral at quarterback. They clearly are rebuilding and hoping to catch lightning in battle. In the meantime Newton will elevate the collective IQ and push the young quarterbacks to be the best version of themselves.
Now that the Cleveland Browns have their quarterback position settled with Deshaun Watson, it’s likely that Baker Mayfield might become available. Maybe the Panthers will make a play for the disgruntled signal caller.
Newton signed a one-year, $6 million contract in 2021 and the Panthers want him to take an even smaller salary. Is there a market for Newton outside of Carolina? Tough to say. But there doesn’t seem to be one.
His last season as a starter was in 2020 as a member of the New England Patriots, when he had a 7-8 record.
At this point it’s for Newton to decide if he’s cool with the role as outlined by the Panthers. If not, there is no need for this to drag out. Newton has made over $127 million in on-field compensation alone. Add in his endorsements over the years and he’s looking OK.
Finishing out his career in Carolina would have a nice storybook ending to a career that burned white-hot but didn’t last all that long.
Newton burst onto the scene inn 2011 and set multiple rookie quarterback records, including:
- Most passing yards by a quarterback in the first two games (854 yards).
- Most passing yards by a rookie in a game (432 yards against the Green Bay Packers).
- First player in NFL history with at least five rushing touchdowns and five passing touchdowns in his first five games.
- First rookie quarterback in NFL history to throw for 10 touchdowns and run for 10 touchdowns in a season.
To find out more about Cam Newton’s possible NFL return, click here