CHARLOTTE, N.C. — “Superman,” the sequel, started for the Carolina Panthers on Thursday when quarterback Cam Newton returned to the group he led to the Super Bowl in 2015 with a one-year contract.
The deal is value as much as $10 million for the rest of the season, together with $4.5 million assured and a $1.5 million roster bonus, a supply advised ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Newton’s return created a buzz across the Carolinas that cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who grew up in close by Rock Hill, South Carolina, and performed with Newton the previous 12 months and a half in New England, understands higher than most.
“There’s loads of necessary individuals in South Carolina and North Carolina, however Cam Newton might be proper up there on the prime two or prime one,” he mentioned.
Newton, who celebrated touchdowns together with his signature “Superman” transfer for 9 seasons with the Panthers, was unavailable for remark Thursday as he started assembly with coaches after passing his bodily.
He is predicted to handle the media on Friday, however his presence already was felt round Charlotte and on the stadium.
“Everybody knows Cam as a superstar,” said wide receiver DJ Moore, one of about a dozen players who were on the team when Newton last played here in 2019. “But throughout the locker room he brings a distinct vitality.”
It’s that vitality the Panthers hope to harness to presumably make a playoff run.
“We had a heartfelt, sincere discussion with him and it wasn’t about anything in the past,” general manager Scott Fitterer said. “It was extra about what are we going to do now transferring ahead and what’s Cam’s function and the way can he assist us and what can we do to help him.”
The Panthers, who chosen Newton with the primary total decide within the 2011 draft, launched him following the 2019 season after he had struggled for a number of years with shoulder and foot accidents. They started a brand new regime with coach Matt Rhule at the moment.
The Panthers (4-5) started trying to find choices at quarterback after starter Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder damage Sunday that may sideline him 4 to 6 weeks
Rhule mentioned that after studying the extent of Darnold’s damage on Tuesday, he received with Fitterer to take a look at choices, with the understanding that P.J. Walker would begin Sunday in opposition to the Arizona Cardinals (8-1).
“After we talked and deliberated, I went back to my office and called Cam [on Tuesday] night,” Rhule mentioned. “I asked if he had any interest in coming back to the Carolina Panthers. He emphatically said, ‘Yes.'”
Newton flew to Charlotte on Thursday morning to fulfill with proprietor David Tepper and Fitterer to finalize the deal. Newton is predicted to follow Friday, as Rhule is raring to see “where he is physically.”
“A healthy Cam Newton is a special player,” Rhule mentioned. “We’ll just take it day by day.”
Rhule mentioned the plan is for not too long ago acquired Matt Barkley to function the backup to Walker on Sunday.
Newton, the 2015 NFL MVP, began 15 video games for the New England Patriots in 2020 earlier than being launched in coaching camp this 12 months after the group determined to go together with rookie Mac Jones because the starter.
Newton missed three practices earlier than the season because of what the Patriots referred to as a COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding,” however coach Bill Belichick mentioned the quarterback’s vaccination standing did not issue into the choice to launch him.
The 32-year-old quarterback mentioned in a video printed to his YouTube channel final month that he is been vaccinated.
Rhule mentioned he feels the Panthers nonetheless can win now, with the league’s No. 2 protection and a wholesome Christian McCaffrey within the backfield, if there may be stability at quarterback.
“We have a team we feel like can win,” Rhule mentioned. “We owe it to our players to try to go win. We owe it to our fans to try to go win.”
Added Rhule later: “This is a disciplined decision. This is an excellent player that is healthy and wants to be here. I’m excited.”
Newton final performed for Carolina within the second sport of the 2019 season earlier than being sidelined after aggravating a Lisfranc damage suffered within the third preseason sport.
“Cam Newton is a pro,” Rhule mentioned when requested whether or not Newton harbored any laborious emotions about his launch from the Panthers in 2019. “We made a soccer resolution on the time primarily based on his well being. We weren’t positive what his well being was, and we needed to decide. Cam understands that. He understands these are football-based.
“… I know that he’s a competitor, I know that he’s tough. He’s everything that I believe and talk about,” Rhule mentioned. “But at the time, he wasn’t healthy. He’s healthy now.”
In 9 seasons with Carolina, Newton is the franchise’s profession chief in passing yards (29,041), passing touchdowns (182) and dashing touchdowns (58). He ranks third with 4,806 dashing yards.
According to Elias Sports Bureau information, Newton is 959 passing yards and 194 dashing yards from changing into the primary participant in NFL historical past to succeed in the 30K-5K membership for a single group — though Russell Wilson wants simply 426 dashing yards to succeed in the milestone with the Seattle Seahawks.
Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and ran for 10 extra throughout his 2015 MVP season, when he led Carolina to a 15-1 regular-season document.
The former famous person quarterback who as soon as gained the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player Award and led the Panthers to an look in Super Bowl 50 is once more in Panther black and blue. Newton signed a one-year cope with the group value as much as $10 million, together with $4.5 million absolutely assured and a $1.5 million roster bonus, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Thursday.
The reunion was set in movement by Panthers coach Matt Rhule reaching out to Newton earlier within the week to gauge his curiosity in returning to Carolina.
“He emphatically said yes,” Rhule mentioned.
Panthers basic Scott Fitterer later confirmed that Newton handed his bodily and formally signed his contract.
“I always admired the competitor athlete,” Fitterer mentioned, per The Charlotte Observer. “But really meeting him today, this guy is all about team. He was really an impressive person. He’s coming in looking to help us. He thinks he can put us over the top.”
Newton met with group brass on Thursday morning to finalize his contract with the franchise that chosen him first total a decade earlier. The veteran quarterback had spent the preseason and the entire 2020 season with the New England Patriots following his departure from Carolina after the 2019 marketing campaign.
Carolina was in want of QB assist following Sam Darnold’s damage, a cracked scapula that landed the previous first-round decide on injured reserve. Darnold’s play within the final 5 weeks has been abysmal, and the damage expedited Carolina’s resolution to make a change underneath heart.
Rhule would not rule out Newton being able to play in Week 10 in opposition to the Cardinals — P.J. Walker is slated to start out with Matt Barkley backing him up — however acknowledged that the Panthers will seemingly trot him out sooner relatively than later.
“I can’t do hypotheticals,” Rhule mentioned. “Obviously we brought Cam here because of who he is at quarterback and we brought him here to play. But we’re not looking into the future. We just got to get him here.”
He arrives simply in time for one more beforehand unlikely, however now celebrated reunion. The Washington Football Team and coach Ron Rivera, who served because the Panthers’ coach for all of Newton’s earlier stint in Carolina, journey to Carolina in Week 11.
Newton rose to stardom with the Panthers within the final decade, pairing his arm together with his giant body to grow to be a passing and working machine who proved to be extremely tough to comprise. With Rivera directing the Panthers from the sideline, Newton helped Carolina attain the postseason 4 occasions between 2011 and 2019, main the Panthers to an NFC title in his greatest season within the NFL in 2015.
That 2015 season noticed Newton take the league by storm, powering an offense that lifted the Panthers to a 15-1 common season document and a blowout win over the Arizona Cardinals within the NFC Championship Game. Newton earned MVP and Offensive Player of the Year honors and his solely All-Pro choice within the season, which resulted in a heartbreaking defeat by the hands of the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
The three-time Pro Bowl choice started his profession because the Offensive Rookie of the Year after being chosen No. 1 total within the 2011 NFL Draft, reversing Carolina’s fortunes within the first years of the brand new decade. Newton racked up 31,698 passing yards, 190 passing touchdowns, 5,398 dashing yards and 70 dashing scores over his 9 seasons in Charlotte, and holds Panthers franchise data for QB wins (68), passing yards (29,041), passing touchdowns (182) and dashing touchdowns (58).
Once Newton’s subsequent chapter in Carolina sees him take the sphere, he’ll grow to be simply the second participant in NFL historical past to win an MVP with a group, depart for one more membership, after which return to play once more for his previous group. Boomer Esiason did so with the Bengals, leaving for New York and Arizona earlier than returning to Cincinnati for one ultimate season previous to retiring after the 1997 marketing campaign.
Newton reunites with Carolina as a modified man, having battled by a number of accidents in current seasons and seeing his efficiency decline consequently. Newton’s one-season stint in New England noticed him document profession lows in passing touchdowns (eight) and passing yards per sport (177.1) whereas additionally lacking one sport because of a optimistic COVID-19 take a look at.
Newton completed his time in New England on a optimistic notice, posting a 6-3 TD-INT ratio in his final eight video games and going 4-4 in these contests. He returned to New England on a one-year deal value as much as $13.6 million, however was launched on the finish of the preseason when the Patriots determined to proceed ahead with first-round decide Mac Jones.
Newton has since spent the season as a free agent, getting vaccinated within the course of and minimizing concern associated to him doubtlessly lacking time because of a optimistic COVID-19 take a look at.
“He told me he’s healthy and feels great, he’s as healthy as he’s been,” Rhule mentioned. “A healthy Cam Newton is a special player.”
We’ll see if he is nonetheless particular sufficient to show across the 4-5 Panthers’ once-promising season.