Cam Newton

Panthers Still Considering Re-Signing QB Cam Newton

The Panthers are still monitoring the Cam Newton situation. After having been connected to the veteran quarterback throughout the offseason, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said that the front office is keeping “lines of communication” with the QB’s camp.

“I think we’re still having thoughts,” Fitterer said during an appearance on PFTPM (passed along by Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “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 more competition we have at that position the better.”

Newton always seemed like a fallback option for the organization. Even after losing out in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, the organization has still been connected to the likes of Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo. There’s a good chance that the Panthers will wait out both of those situations before committing to Newton, and the former MVP’s return to Carolina would surely be contingent on the organization not adding another veteran at the position.

In nine seasons in Charlotte from 2011 to 2019, Newton earned two Pro Bowls and led the team to a Super Bowl after a 15-1 campaign in 2015. His production has tailed off considerably since then, however. After getting cut by the Patriots following an underwhelming one-year stint in New England, Newton caught on with the Panthers in November. He ended up getting into eight games (five starts) for Carolina, completing 54.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions. He added another 230 rushing yards and five scores on 47 carries.

At the moment, former third-overall pick Sam Darnold leads the Panthers depth chart, although the organization did add some competition at the position after drafting Matt Corral in the third round of the draft. The team is also still rostering P.J. Walker, who’s won both of his starts across two seasons with the team.

Cam Newton Drawing Interest In Free Agency

After all the movement that has gone on with regards to quarterbacks this offseason, most teams are set at the position. That has left a few notable names in a complicated situation, such as Jimmy Garoppolo and Baker Mayfield. Another one who has mostly gone unmentioned over the past few weeks is Cam Newton

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Newton is “drawing interest” as a free agent (Twitter link). Not surprisingly, though, he adds that the 32-year-old is “remaining patient” given the near (if not total) lack of available starting roles at this time.

“I have teams that are interested in signing me” Newton texted to Schefter. “I am waiting on the best fit as it pertains to winning a championship and getting a fair chance to play.” Newton rejoined the Panthers midway through the 2021 season after his one-year stint in New England. He lost all five of his starts in Sam Darnold‘s absence, completing less than 55% of his passes.

Schefter’s colleague David Newton adds that the Panthers would be willing to extend the former MVP’s second stint in Carolina. As general manager Scott Fitterer said, “the door is open” for Newton, though he stressed the team remains committed to Darnold at the top of the depth chart. In nine seasons in Charlotte from 2011 to 2019, Newton earned two Pro Bowls and led the team to a Super Bowl after a 15-1 campaign in 2015. His production has tailed off considerably since then, however.

As the QB market cools down, Newton’s list of potential suitors would, presumably, shrink with each passing move. If he has generated interest from multiple teams, though, he could find his next NFL home in the near future.

Panthers’ Plans At Quarterback

After losing out on the Deshaun Watson-sweepstakes, the Panthers have maintained that they still intend to add another quarterback to the roster, according to Nick Shook of NFL.com. In a press conference covered by Shook and Joseph Person of The Athletic, general manager Scott Fitterer laid out the team’s plans moving forward.

Answering the obvious question, quarterbacks Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker are still under contract and will be afforded every opportunity to earn the starting job moving forward. The issue there lies in the fact that they’ve already been given such an opportunity and the question of future quarterback is still being asked as a result. Fitterer did inform reporters that head coach Matt Rhule had talked with a free agent signing from last year, Cam Newton. On the matter, Fitterer said, “The thing with Cam, it’s gotta be a fit for us and it’s gotta be a fit for him, just as well. He’s looking for a certain opportunity. The door’s still open for us.”

The free agent quarterback market really cleared out after Watson’s trade to Cleveland. There are still some NFL-experienced options in the trade market, though. As of now, Fitterer asserts that they haven’t heard from San Francisco or Cleveland about Jimmy Garoppolo or Baker Mayfield. Since phones tend to have the ability to both send AND receive calls, it stands to reason that the Panthers not reaching out to initiate conversations over the available quarterbacks is a reflection of their level of interest. Still, Fitterer claims that they are open to receiving calls from the 49ers or Browns. They do have the luxury of waiting, possibly even until after the Draft, as there doesn’t seem to be any urgent interest in Garoppolo or Mayfield.

The most likely path, and the one most desired by Fitterer, is through the 2022 NFL Draft. Rhule and Fitterer were in attendance for Kenny Pickett’s pro day workout at Pitt and Malik Willis’ workout at Liberty. Rhule went to Mississippi’s pro day to watch Matt Corral. The only reason they didn’t go the Cincinnati to watch Desmond Ridder is because they already worked extensively with the Bearcat quarterback at the Senior Bowl and Combine. They still sent a scout and two personnel executives, though.

Suffice it to say that the Panthers have made it extremely clear that they are taking a good look at this year’s quarterback class. With the sixth pick in the first round of the Draft, Carolina could very likely take a quarterback and very well may the first team to do so, giving them their pick of the litter.

Fitterer preached a philosophy of building a team around a young quarterback on a reasonably low contract, like the Seahawks did with Russell Wilson during Fitterer’s tenure in Seattle. The only issue with this philosophy is that Rhule’s seat is getting hotter with each loss. He may not feel he has the leash to develop a young quarterback surrounded by veterans. If Rhule feels like he’s in a win-now scenario, he may push for the team to trade for one of the more proven assets like Garoppolo or Mayfield.

The route that ends up getting taken in Carolina will likely say a lot about the alignment of Rhule and Fitterer, who arrived one year after the head coach. If the team makes a move to trade for a league veteran, Fitterer likely wants to give Rhule the tools to keep his job. If the teams sits pat and waits until the Draft to address the position, it could be assumed that Fitterer is willing to let Rhule test his luck in order to build a team around his own philosophy.

Panthers Starting Darnold In Week 17

In one of the more intriguing depth chart decisions this late in the season, head coach of the Panthers Matt Rhule has announced that Sam Darnold will start under center for the team’s Week 17 matchup in New Orleans. The intrigue comes from a few places, namely a possible quarterback controversy and the handling of Darnold’s health.

It’s been hard to get a read on what Rhule’s thoughts are on their quarterback room. Longtime Panther Cam Newton was signed to help fill in when Darnold fractured his scapula in a loss to the Patriots and was placed on IR. Newton started 5 of the next 6 games, losing all of his starts and being benched twice for P.J. Walker. Before Newton’s most recent start, Darnold was activated off of IR. Despite Darnold’s activation, Rhule stuck with Newton to start against the Buccaneers. It didn’t take long for Newton to be benched a third time, this time for the newly healthy Darnold. Whether it was skill or health that had Darnold coming off the bench instead of starting is unclear, but 19 minutes into the game, Rhule clearly thought Darnold gave them the best chance at winning.

It certainly wouldn’t be unreasonable for Rhule to be cautious and let Darnold take the rest of the season to heal. After all, last week’s loss to Tampa Bay eliminated the Panthers from playoff contention. To take Darnold immediately from IR and throw him into the line of fire seems like a bit of an unnecessary risk.

Rhule was quoted saying, “Sam has been working hard to get back…We’re going to give him this opportunity to show what he can do.” The stance conveyed in this quote seems to show that Darnold’s grasp on the starting quarterback job in Carolina is tenuous at best. It sounds as if Rhule is giving the former first round pick one more chance over the next two games to convince him that quarterback shouldn’t be a priority for the Panthers this offseason. Road matchups against the Saints and Buccaneers won’t make this an easy task for Darnold.

Panthers Open To Re-Signing Cam Newton For 2022; Sam Darnold Done For Season?

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule told reporters on Wednesday that quarterback Sam Darnold, who is dealing with a fracture of the scapula on his right shoulder, will miss at least four to six weeks. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, Carolina is confident that Darnold will actually miss the rest of the season, which is what prompted the club to reunite with Cam Newton earlier this week.

As soon as the Panthers knew that Darnold would likely be sidelined for the remainder of the 2021 campaign, they reviewed their in-house and outside options and determined that Newton was the best choice. As Ian Rapoport of NFL.com writes, Rhule then called Newton to determine the former MVP’s interest in rejoining his old team, and Newton was very excited about the prospect.

At that point, the discussions hinged on two factors, one of which was money. Newton, who is still getting paid by the Patriots, was not going to settle for the veteran minimum, which is why the two sides ultimately came together on a $6MM pact (although Newton can earn up to $10MM, it will be difficult for him to reach that maximum).

Just as important was Newton’s desire for “direct communication and accountability.” In other words, if the team has an issue with him, he wants to be told about it directly, just as Patriots head coach Bill Belichick did with him in New England. Rhule, GM Scott Fitterer, VP of football operations Steven Drummond — whose relationship with Newton helped get the deal done — and owner David Tepper promised him as much.

When initially asked about the possibility of re-signing Newton in 2022, Fitterer was noncommittal, saying, “we’re not there yet” (Twitter link via David Newton of ESPN.com). However, Schefter says that if Newton plays well for the rest of the season, he would immediately become the favorite to serve as the starting QB next year.

Rapoport, meanwhile, notes that while the team is certainly open to another contract for Newton, Carolina has by no means given up on Darnold. After all, Darnold is owed a fully-guaranteed $18.858MM for the 2022 season, and the Panthers liked what they saw from him in the first three weeks of this year. The club thinks that his shoulder ailment contributed to his poor performance over the last few weeks, and it has no intention of trying to cut ties this offseason.

If Newton plays in this afternoon’s contest against the Cardinals, he will only see a limited number of snaps. As we already knew, P.J. Walker will serve as today’s QB1. But assuming all goes well in practice over the coming days, Newton has a good chance to suit up against Washington and old friend Ron Rivera next week.

Details On QB Cam Newton’s Contract With Panthers

When Cam Newton rejoined the Panthers this week, we learned that he could collect up to $10MM on his one-year contract. Well, it sounds like Newton will be hard pressed to reach those incentives, with the majority of his bonuses tied to the team’s performance in the postseason.

[RELATED: Panthers Sign QB Cam Newton]

ESPN’s Field Yates has provided (via Twitter) the full details on the QB’s contract with the Panthers. Newton can earn an extra $500K for each playoff win (coupled with playing at least 50 percent of the team’s offensive snaps). Newton can also earn an additional $1.5MM for a Super Bowl win (+ 50% playing time) and another $1MM if he wins Super Bowl MVP.

No disrespect to the Panthers, but there’s no guarantee that they even make the playoffs, much less get a playoff win. Per DraftKings Sportsbook, there are 11 NFC teams with better odds to make the Super Bowl, and there are 23 NFL teams with a better chance of winning the championship. Even if you ignore the Panthers’ odds, there’s still a chance the team goes back to Sam Darnold once he returns from the IR.

In reality, Newton will likely earn the previously reported $4.5MM that is guaranteed plus his per-game roster bonus. In other words, assuming Newton is rostered for the rest of the season and the Panthers either fail to make the playoffs or fail to win a postseason game, then Newton’s really looking at a max contract value of $6MM.

Those per-game roster bonuses are valued at $187.5K, per Yates. Newton’s $4.5MM guaranteed is divided with a $2.25MM signing bonus and a $2.25MM base salary.

Panthers Sign QB Cam Newton

Cam Newton will return to the Panthers. A Thursday meeting produced a quick contract agreement, one that will lead the former MVP back to Carolina.

The sides agreed on a one-year deal, USA Today’s Josina Anderson tweets, and Newton will do quite well for himself. The Panthers are giving him $4.5MM fully guaranteed, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, and the veteran passer has a chance to collect up to $10MM. Offset language was present covering $1.5MM in Newton’s most recent Patriots deal, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. This led Newton to hold out for more this season, and he landed such a contract from his initial NFL employer.

The Panthers have cycled through multiple starting quarterbacks since cutting Newton in March 2020. They are now down Sam Darnold, who had regressed after a strong start. With Darnold on IR, P.J. Walker is in line to start against the Cardinals in Week 10. By Week 11, the Panthers’ first-string plans are likely to change.

Newton, 32, went through two sets of meetings before committing to rejoin the Panthers. He had previously met with Matt Rhule, who had signed off on his release last offseason, to clear the air, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). A meeting with owner David Tepper, first-year GM Scott Fitterer and VP of football operations Stephen Drummond then commenced. It all led to a reunion, which ends Newton’s latest lengthy free agency stay.

Set to begin his 11th season, Newton is coming off a 15-start slate with the Patriots. That campaign did not go especially well, with Newton throwing just eight touchdown passes. Although the Pats re-signed Newton this offseason, they drafted Mac Jones and decided not to keep both QBs going into the season. This agreement also means the Patriots will add $1.5MM in cap space in 2022 (h/t Patscap, on Twitter). Since the late-August release, Newton spoke with the Seahawks about a deal amid Russell Wilson‘s injury hiatus. No agreement came to pass. Newton is now vaccinated and can rejoin the Panthers immediately.

Rhule will be the third coach Newton has played for as a pro, and the former No. 1 overall pick will be tasked with quickly digesting Joe Brady‘s offense. Newton made three Pro Bowls in his first five seasons, leading the Panthers to three playoff berths during that span. He led Carolina to a 15-1 season in 2015 and spearheaded the Panthers’ run to their second Super Bowl. A rough Newton outing against the Broncos preceded an injury-plagued second half, one that featured the dual-threat talent ranking 29th in QBR cumulatively from 2016-19. A foot injury cost Newton 14 games in 2019. The Panthers then signed Teddy Bridgewater in March 2020, signaling the end of Newton’s first stint.

Bridgewater is now in Denver, following an April trade, and Darnold is out for at least a month. Walker, who was off to a strong start in the XFL before the pandemic ended its second season early, has made one career NFL start — against the Lions last season — and completed 3 of 15 passes in relief of Darnold in Week 7. Newton has 139 starts under his belt. While Walker stands to make a second start this week, Newton will be positioned to move past 140 for his career soon. The Panthers face Washington, run by ex-Newton HC Ron Rivera, in Week 11.

Panthers To Meet With Cam Newton

Cam Newton will have a chance to return to the Panthers. The again-QB-needy franchise will meet with the best passer in its history Thursday.

After having been largely off the radar for two months, Newton secured a Thursday meeting with Matt Rhule and David Tepper, according to the Charlotte Observer’s Jonathan Alexander. The Panthers just placed Sam Darnold on IR, moving P.J. Walker into the starting slot. This meeting appears to be more than an exploratory conversation. The Panthers hope to re-sign Newton, with Joe Person of The Athletic noting an agreement is near (Twitter links).

This would be quite the full-circle development for a Panthers regime that jettisoned Newton as one of its first orders of business in March 2020. Rhule made the move to release Newton, instead signing Teddy Bridgewater to a more lucrative deal. The Panthers cut bait on that contract a year later, sending Bridgewater to the Broncos and trading for Darnold. Carolina’s current quarterback leads the NFL in interceptions, with 11.

Newton struggled in his Patriots season and ended up being released, with the Pats going with first-rounder Mac Jones. Newton, 32, has battled extensive injury trouble since his dominant 2015 MVP season. Shoulder and foot injuries nagged Newton during his final years in Carolina. The former No. 1 overall pick missed 14 games in 2019, prompting the current Panthers regime to cut bait rather than sign on for a 10th season with Newton at the controls.

Jones was able to get a crucial leg up on Newton in August, when a COVID-19 testing issue sidelined New England’s 2020 starter for five days. The Pats moved on from the three-time Pro Bowler ahead of roster cutdown day, and the 10-year veteran has spent two months back in free agency. The Seahawks spoke with Newton shortly after Russell Wilson‘s injury but stayed the course with Geno Smith. Now vaccinated, Newton could rejoin the Panthers quickly and become an emergency solution for a reeling team.

Saints Won’t Consider Cam Newton

We can now rule out two big-name quarterbacks for the Saints. Drew Brees won’t un-retire to replace Jameis Winston, nor will the Saints consider free agent Cam Newton as a potential Jameis Winston replacement, according to a team source who spoke with PFT (Twitter link). 

Newton is available and vaccinated, but the Saints seem to prefer their in-house options. Backup Trevor Siemian was solid in Winston’s stead last night while Taysom Hill could be ready to return from his Week 5 concussion.

As the Panthers’ star QB, Newton did some of his best work against the Saints. However, he finished near the bottom of the league in cumulative QBR from 2016-19 and fell flat with the Pats last year. In 2020, the former MVP threw for just 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns with ten interceptions. On the plus side, he displayed his usual rushing talent, collecting 592 yards and 12 TDs on the ground, plus a receiving touchdown.

The Saints will likely be without Winston and definitely be without Newton on Sunday when they face the Falcons. Depending on the outcome of Bucs-WFT, a win could put the Saints in the NFC South lead.

Seahawks To Keep Tabs On Cam Newton

The Seahawks will continue to “keep tabs” on Cam Newton, NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero hears (Twitter link). However, they’re unlikely to sign him straight away. 

Newton is still collecting $1.5MM from his previous Patriots contract, a sum that is subject to offsets. Newton, understandably, is unwilling to play for free. So, in order to sign Newton, the Seahawks or any other club would have to offer a better deal. That amount would be prorated, but it could still prove to be a barrier.

For now, the Seahawks are willing to roll with Geno Smith and Jake Luton as their quarterbacks until Russell Wilson is ready to return. Star power aside, it’s hard to say whether Newton would represent a clear upgrade over Smith.

Newton finished near the bottom of the league in cumulative QBR from 2016-19 and didn’t impress in 2020. Last year, the former MVP threw for just 2,657 yards and eight touchdowns with ten interceptions. On the plus side, he displayed his usual rushing talent, collecting 592 yards and 12 TDs on the ground, plus a receiving touchdown.