Newton signed a one-year deal that seemingly values him as Carolina’s starter moving forward despite the presence of injured incumbent starter Sam Darnold.
The expectation here is that Newton will end up starting at some point soon. Unfortunately for the veteran and his new(ish) team, there’s not enough time to get him up to speed ahead of Sunday’s game against the NFC-best Arizona Cardinals.
Instead, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule announced in his weekly presser on Thursday that P.J. Walker will get the starting nod.
Once Darnold went down with a shoulder injury and was placed on short-term injured reserve earlier in the week, the assumption was that Walker would get the start. Remember, Carolina added veteran journeyman Matt Barkley to the mix prior to signing Newton.
The 6-foot Walker led the XFL in passing yards (1,338) and touchdowns (15) while throwing only four interceptions as a member of the Houston Roughnecks back in 2020. Sure the quality of competition in the XFL is not comparable, but he’s now at least being given a chance — no matter how short-lived that might be.
Carolina Panthers end game is Cam Newton
At 4-5 on the season and having lost five of their past six, the Panthers are in desperation mode. Sure they are still very much in the NFC Playoff race. But continued struggles from Darnold under center prior to the quarterback going down was the primary culprit.
After accounting for six touchdowns against two turnovers in Carolina’s first three games (all wins), the former USC standout was a mistake waiting to happen over the past six outings — throwing a mere four touchdowns while turning the ball over 11 times. That’s just not going to cut it.
A star for these Panthers from 2011-19, Newton was not his old self in his only season with the New England Patriots. The former NFL MVP threw just eight touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 starts. However, he did add a league-best 12 rushing touchdowns.
The hope in Carolina is that a return to normalcy with the Panthers can help him be the player we saw for the majority of his career before injuries derailed Newton’s then Hall of Fame-worthy career.