Cam Newton returns home to Carolina Panthers after Sam Darnold injury

The Carolina Panthers have agreed to a one-year contract to bring back quarterback Cam Newton to the franchise that drafted him No 1 overall in 2011.

Carolina were light on quarterbacks after starter Sam Darnold suffered a fracture of his shoulder blade in last week’s 24-6 loss to the New England Patriots.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule had previously said on Wednesday that PJ Walker is expected to start on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals. Matt Barkley, signed off the Tennessee Titans practice squad, is slated to be his backup. It’s unclear if Newton’s return will change that.

Newton has struggled in recent years to get back to the playing level that earned him league MVP honors in 2015, in part due to shoulder and foot injuries. Newton is 7-16 in his last 23 career starts with 20 interceptions and 17 touchdown passes. He has run for 12 touchdowns during that span.

He spent nine seasons with the Panthers, throwing for 29,041 yards with 182 touchdown passes and 111 interceptions. He also set an NFL record for most career touchdowns rushing by a quarterback during his tenure in Carolina.

Newton’s best season came in 2015 when he combined for 45 touchdowns – 35 passing and 10 rushing – and helped the Panthers reach the Super Bowl after going 15-1 during the regular season. Newton was released by the Panthers prior to the 2020 season in a salary cap move after losing his final eight starts for the Panthers.

Newton signed with the New England Patriots last season and started in 15 games. He continued to struggle throwing the football and suffered from a bout of Covid-19. He recorded 10 interceptions with only eight TDs passing. He ran for 12 scores and was 7-8 as a starter.

Newton was released by the Patriots before the start of the season, and there was speculation that the move was due to the quarterback’s vaccination status. The Patriots denied those reports and Newton said he has been vaccinated against Covid-19.