Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton said Monday he's still confident in his ability to play at a high level but noted he's willing to accept a backup role on a contender in 2022.
WCNC's Nick Carboni provided Newton's full comments about the future and his lack of interest in playing for a losing team:
Nick Carboni @NickCarboniWCNC
Cam Newton says he's healthy, and is willing to accept a backup role in the right situation, for a winning-type team:<br><br>"I'm not coming back for no 5-12. I can tell you that now."<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFL</a> I <a href="https://twitter.com/wcnc?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@wcnc</a> I <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a> <a href="https://t.co/o19XF7CaHm">pic.twitter.com/o19XF7CaHm</a>
Newton has struggled as a passer over the past two seasons.
The 2015 NFL MVP completed 65.8 percent of his throws for 2,657 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions across 15 appearances for the New England Patriots in 2020.
The Pats released him in August, and he remained a free agent until he rejoined Carolina, where he'd played the first nine years of his career, in November. He compiled four passing TDs and five picks in eight games (five starts) for the Panthers.
Newton is still an effective rusher with 822 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground in the last two seasons.
The 32-year-old three-time Pro Bowl selection said Monday he had an adjustment period since he "wasn't used to" being a backup, but he understands the situation and will take it into consideration as he heads toward free agency.
"I think I've proved to the people I need to prove to my worth, my value," Newton told reporters. "Me answering this now, just a day removed from the season, I don't know what that looks like. But can I tell you do I have a lot of football [left], do I want to play? Yeah. But under the right conditions."
Newton hasn't looked like a full-time starting quarterback since injuries suffered late in his first Panthers tenure—a shoulder injury in 2018 and a foot injury in 2019—but his ability in the ground game makes him an intriguing option for a contender to use in short-yardage situations.
The question is whether he'll be willing to accept that lesser role if the right team comes calling in the offseason or if he'll wait for a starting opportunity.
Meanwhile, the Panthers have quarterback questions to answer in the months ahead with Sam Darnold unable to prove himself as the team's long-term option.