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3 Carolina Panthers quarterback options after Sam Darnold injury

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Carolina Panthers find themselves in an unenviable situation at the quarterback situation after placing the struggling Sam Darnold on short-term injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

At 4-5 on the season, Carolina remains very much alive in the NFC Playoff race. Right now, it will have to roll with P.J. Walker for at least the next four weeks. The Panthers also signed veteran journeyman Matt Barkley earlier in the week.

In talking about his team’s quarterback situation, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule noted on Wednesday that thy will “explore any and all options.” Unfortunately, the NFL trade deadline passed last week. That makes the timing of the Darnold injury pretty darn bad. Below, we look at three options for Carolina moving forward.

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Carolina Panthers stick with P.J. Walker

carolina panthers stick with p.j. walker
Oct 31, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker (6) runs the ball against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Remember, Darnold was actually benched in favor of Walker during Carolina’s ugly 25-3 loss to the New York Giants back in Week 7. The former XFL star went on to complete just 3-of-14 passes for 33 yards while being sacked three times. In limited NFL action, the Temple product has thrown just one touchdown compared to five interceptions.

That doesn’t seem to be indicative of success moving forward. However, it must be noted that Walker did star for the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks during the 2020 season before COVID-19 shut things down. The 6-foot quarterback led the league in passing yards (1,338) and touchdowns (15) while throwing only four interceptions. Sure the quality of competition in the XFL is not comparable. But it’s now like Walker could do any worse than what we saw from Darnold prior to his injury.

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Carolina Panthers add Nathan Peterman from Las Vegas Raiders’ practice squad

carolina panthers sign nathan peterman
Aug 29, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Nathan Peterman (3) throws the ball in the second half against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Speaking of a lack of NFL success, the 27-year-old Peterman has been absolutely horrible during regular-season action. The former Pittsburgh star has thrown three touchdowns against 12 interceptions in 10 games (four starts).

Even then, there’s something to be said about Peterman improving while riding the pine in Vegas. He performed extremely well taking pretty much every snap under center during the preseason and still boasts that strong arm. He’s also your prototypical dropback quarterback that Rhule prefers over the more mobile type. Why not take a chance on him?

Carolina Panthers bring back Cam Newton

New-England-Patriots-QB-Cam-Newton
Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

In talking to the media on Wednesday, Rhule would not get into hypotheticals when a reporter asked about Cam Newton. However, the former NFL MVP is the most-notable free-agent quarterback after being a surprise release of the New England Patriots during the preseason. Last year with New England, Newton accounted for 20 total touchdowns against 10 interceptions in 15 starts. While those numbers are not comparable to his heyday in Carolina, it’s better than what the Panthers have on their roster.

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The only question here is whether Newton would even entertain a reunion with Carolina following their ulgy divorce ahead of the 2020 season. Given that he has not received any real play over the past two months, Newton might not have a choice.

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