5 Potential QBs the Carolina Panthers Could Target to Back Up Cam Newton
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The official start to the NFL's 2013 season is slated to begin March 12 and teams have been in the process of making roster moves to get under the league salary cap and scout the incoming draft class to find the players who will make a difference over the next few seasons.
The Carolina Panthers have been no different, as they have made roster moves in the form of releasing or signing players and restructuring contracts. One of the issues they are facing this offseason is who will back up Cam Newton.
While the man backing up the starting quarterback generally lacks the skills that the starter possesses, there may come a time when he is called upon to guide his team. Such times come as the result of injury or a subpar performance. Carolina fans need to look no further than the 2003 season when a man by the name of Jake Delhomme took over after halftime of Week 1 against Jacksonville.
He not only spearheaded the Panthers' comeback from a large deficit in that game but led Carolina to a magical season that ended in a thrilling Super Bowl appearance.
While that may not be the case this year, it would benefit the Panthers to have a quarterback who can keep Carolina in games and maintain the offense's effectiveness. The Panthers could explore a plethora of options: retaining one of their current backup quarterbacks, sign one in free agency or draft one.
Here is a list of of possible quarterbacks the Panthers could pursue prior to the start of the new season.
Carolina or Cleveland? Where will Anderson end up this year?
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Derek Anderson has served as the Carolina Panthers backup for the past two seasons. While Anderson would be the most ideal option with his veteran presence and knowledge of Carolina's offense and personnel, there is a possibility he could join former Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski in Cleveland.
There is no doubt Anderson is considering signing with the Browns as he stands a greater chance to compete for a starting job. He was a Pro Bowler in 2007 with Cleveland when Chudzinski was the offensive coordinator.
Anderson made a few appearances last season namely in Weeks 3 and 17. While his first game was mainly for cleanup purposes, he showed enough reason to count on him when he filled in for Cam Newton after he was injured in last season's finale against the New Orleans Saints.
If he is brought back, it may be on a one-year deal, but it seems like he'll be on his way back to Ohio.
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Jason Campbell could be an interesting target in free agency because, like Derek Anderson, he brings a veteran presence to the locker room. Additionally, he has size similar to Newton (6'5", 223 lbs) and can move the ball with both his arm and his legs.
He has a career record of 31-40 and served as Jay Cutler's backup in Chicago during the 2012 campaign. His career numbers aren't bad either as he has thrown for over 14,682 yards along with 76 TDs and 52 INTs.
Considering that Campbell may have entered the phase of his career where he is no more than a second-string quarterback, he could prove to be a solid asset off the bench and could pick up where Anderson left off. He still has a lot left in the tank and his knowledge and experience in the league could help in Newton's progression.
Could Troy Smith make a return to an NFL roster as Carolina's backup quarterback?
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Troy Smith was an outstanding quarterback during his time at Ohio State. Since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2007 draft by the Baltimore Ravens, he has been mainly a backup. After one season with the San Francisco 49ers, he played in the UFL for the the Omaha Nighthawks before being signed to the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad last year.
While Smith lacks the experience as far as a veteran player is concerned, he is still young enough to be groomed by Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula. Smith offers a skill set that could possibly get him into games in specialty packages.
This is a reach as far as backups are concerned, but Smith may be more accepted as the backup than Carolina's third-string quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
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If he doesn't retire, Charlie Batch may consider an offer to sign with the Panthers if the opportunity presents itself. Batch has spent a career with the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers with a lot of appearances as a backup.
His numbers are respectable, but his lack of game time in recent years has limited a similar stat line as Jason Campbell.
Batch has proven himself as an effective replacement, especially with the Steelers where he compiled a 6-3 record. Unlike his tenure in Detroit, Batch had weapons at his disposal in Pittsburgh, which allowed him to be an efficient passer.
A similar situation could present itself in Carolina with the likes of Steve Smith, Greg Olsen and the Panthers backfield serving as his receivers.
Mentoring a young, talented quarterback like Newton along with a great season would be an ideal sendoff for the 12-year veteran.
Klein could be an interesting fit in Carolina as Newton's backup
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Collin Klein presents an interesting situation for the Carolina Panthers. He has size (6'5", 226 lbs) and the intangibles needed to be groomed under Mike Shula and learn from Newton. Klein led the Kansas State Wildcats to a great season and he was a Heisman finalist.
However, concerns about his mechanics have dropped his draft stock to the seventh round to undrafted free-agent status. Considering the Panthers' salary-cap issues, it wouldn't be a far-fetched idea to see them go after Klein as their final pick or sign him as an undrafted free agent.
Unlike the majority of quarterbacks previously listed, the Panthers could sign Klein to a deal longer than one year. The biggest issue would be Carolina's willingness to sign a rookie as the second quarterback on the depth chart.
Bonus: Jimmy Clausen
Will this be Clausen's final year in Carolina?
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It would be a disservice to the readers if third-string quarterback Jimmy Clausen was not listed as a potential backup to replace Derek Anderson.
After being drafted in the second round of the 2010 draft, many people, including this writer, felt the Panthers had the steal of the draft when the Notre Dame product was still available when the Panthers made their first selection of that year's draft.
However, he would not pan out to be the quarterback many envisioned him to be, and the Panthers immediately replaced him when they drafted Cam Newton with the first overall pick the next season. He has been a third-string quarterback ever since.
It's unclear how much Clausen has progressed, as his decision-making from last year's preseason games did not seem to be much better. He has had a tendency to throw the ball away prematurely or check down way too much.
Carolina's new general manager, Dave Gettleman, will no doubt be reviewing game tape of Clausen from the past couple of seasons and may get feedback from the coaching staff regarding their observations and grades of the once-promising quarterback.
Whether he is promoted or remains at his current post, odds are this will be Clausen's final year in Charlotte as his rookie contract will end after the 2013 season.