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Cam returns to the Panthers
The Carolina Panthers have confirmed they are bringing back their former quarterback, Cam Newton, in a one-year deal.
A reunion finally happened.
The Panthers announced Thursday that they signed former Panthers’ Carolina quarterback Cam Newton.
It is a one-year deal, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, owner David Tepper, vice president of football operations Steven Drummond and general manager Scott Fitterer met with Newton on Thursday, The Observer reported first.
Newton, 32, was a free agent and had been looking for a home since the New England Patriots released him in August. The purpose of the meeting was to potentially sign him and they did.
A meeting in general manager Scott Fitterer’s office Tuesday night included assistant general manager Dan Morgan, Rhule, vice president of player personnel Pat Stewart and assistant to the head coach Los Delgado.
They discussed possible options at quarterback and Newton’s name came up.
So Rhule called Newton on Tuesday night and asked him if he would be willing to rejoin the Panthers. Rhule said Newton emphatically said, “Yes.”
He said he chose to call Newton because they had just lost starting quarterback Sam Darnold to injury, and he thought Cam could help them win.
“We didn’t bring Cam Newton to sell season tickets,” Rhule said Thursday. “We brought him here to win games.”
“A healthy Cam Newton is a special player.”
Newton’s deal is worth as much as $10 million, with $4.5 million guaranteed. He has a $1.5 million roster bonus based upon his availability the next eight games.
The Panthers were able to make this move because of their flexibility with salary-cap space. Before Newton’s signing, the Panthers had $17 million in cap space, made possible by Panthers’ salary-cap manger Samir Suleiman.
The Panthers were in need of another quarterback after additional testing on Darnold’s shoulder Tuesday revealed he had an incomplete fracture in his right shoulder blade.
The team believes he suffered the injury in the second quarter of the Panthers’ game against the Patriots on Sunday. It was a separate injury from the one he suffered against the Falcons two weeks ago. He’s expected to go on the injured reserve and is expected to miss at least four to six weeks.
Backup quarterback P.J. Walker is expected to start on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, and veteran Matt Barkley will back him up.
Neither quarterback has had much success in their NFL careers. Walker won his lone start in 2020 against the Detroit Lions 20-0, but he’s primarily been a backup. Barkley has thrown 11 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in his seven-year career.
Rhule said Wednesday that the Panthers would explore “any and all options” in regards to potentially signing a quarterback.
When asked at the time if they had reached out or planned to reach out to Newton, Rhule did not say.
“I won’t get into any hypotheticals,” Rhule said then. “Our job is to try to win, so we’re going to evaluate and talk to whatever we think is possibly out there.”
The Panthers drafted Newton first overall in the 2011 NFL draft. He spent nine seasons with the franchise before releasing him prior to the 2020 season.
The breakup wasn’t pretty. Newton expressed his disappointment in how things went down.
The Panthers tried to trade him but were unsuccessful, so he was released to save money against the salary cap. Rhule called it a football decision. He said at the time, they weren’t sure whether he was healthy.
Newton is one of the best players in franchise history and certainly had the most impact. He won the 2015 NFL MVP award and led the franchise to its second Super Bowl in team history. During the 2015 season, the Panthers finished the regular season 15-1. Newton threw 35 touchdowns, 10 interceptions and ran for 10 touchdowns.
He had everybody in North Carolina, including the Charlotte City Council, doing “the dab” when it was popular.
But he struggled with injuries in his final two seasons with the team. He had shoulder surgery in January 2019. And he played in only the first two games of the 2019 regular season after suffering a Lisfranc injury to his foot in the team’s third preseason game.
In nine seasons with the Panthers, Newton threw for 29,041 yards, 182 passing touchdowns and 111 interceptions.
After being released by the Panthers, Newton signed with the Patriots. He started in 15 games and ran for 12 touchdowns, but struggled throwing the ball. He passed for eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
In New England, Newton played with now Panthers cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
On Wednesday, Gilmore said he was excited about the move.
“He’s a great teammate, he’s a hard worker,” Gilmore said. “He’s a great person. I think he’s going to bring a lot of energy to this team.”
The Panthers (4-5) have made a number of moves this season — including trading for Gilmore — to put themselves in a position to win this year. And though they’ve lost five of their past six games, and this move would speak to the fact that they believe they still have a chance to be a playoff team.
Rhule did not rule out Newton playing on Sunday against the Cardinals.
“This defense is built to win right now, but this team is going to be built to win too,” Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson said.
This story was originally published November 11, 2021 9: 59 AM.
Jonathan M. Alexander is a native of Charlotte. He began covering the Carolina Panthers for the Observer in July 2020 after working at the N&O for seven years, where he covered a variety of beats, including UNC basketball and football, Duke basketball, recruiting, K-12 schools, public safety and town government.
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