Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton practiced just once while wearing No. 1, and is projected to be active for today’s game vs. the Cardinals in Arizona. If he is active, sources say, he will probably play a tiny role with a package of plays. Whether active or not today, the goal is to get Newton learning the full playbook rather quickly with expectations of him being under center next week.
What led to Cam Newton’s return to Carolina?
The conversation started on a Tuesday night when the Panthers knew with certainty that starting quarterback Sam Darnold was out four to six weeks with a shoulder fracture. The team’s front office was quick to react and started exploring all possible scenarios. They initially wanted to go ahead with quarterback P.J. Walker as the starter and backup quarterback Matt Barkley, but then the conversation shifted to Newton.
The reality is that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule heard what he wanted in that the former number one overall pick was interested. The initial thought was a two-year deal, but with so much financial capital in Darnold for 2022, it became a one-year deal worth up to $10 million (a base value of $6 million). Newton did not return to play for the league minimum, largely with money still being paid from the New England Patriots.
Panthers owner David Tepper was present at the team meeting with Newton, as were general manager Scott Fitterer and VP of football operations Steven Drummond. Drummond formed a close relationship with Newton during his first tenure in Carolina and whose appearance was vital. The breakup was not pretty the first time, with Newton being taking issue with many aspects of it. During the time of COVID-19, when all communication was online, some things could have been different.
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This time around, the all-time winningest QB in Panthers franchise history wants direct communication and responsibility, one source stated. If something is incorrect, he wants to be told face-to-face. Previously when frustrations would happen, staffers or coaches would not always come to him that way. Newton enjoyed the direct communication he received from head coach Bill Belichick in New England and wants something similar from Rhule. They vowed he would have it and Tepper told Newton that the signing was the best football move for the franchise.