Cam Newton, Panthers Have 'Open' Lines of Communication, GM Scott Fitterer Says

Erin WalshMay 12, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 02: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers warms up before the game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on January 02, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

It's unclear what the future holds for free-agent quarterback Cam Newton. However, a return to the Carolina Panthers doesn't appear to have been ruled out. 

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer told ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio that the two sides are communicating and that head coach Matt Rhule has also spoken with the veteran:

"I think we're still having thoughts. We have to see how this works out here throughout the spring. I just happened to be up at the [Kentucky] Derby last weekend and Cam was up there. We're texting a little bit. The lines of communication are open. I know Coach Rhule has spoken with him. We are going to have a discussion at some point but we're just not quite there yet, but we'll see how it goes. The more competition we have at that position the better."

Rhule also left the door open for Newton to return in March, telling reporters, "He's an amazing leader. He's an amazing football player. Everything we do has to be right for the organization, right for him."

At the time, Newton told ESPN's Adam Schefter via text message that he had teams interested in signing him and that he was waiting for the best fit "as it pertains to winning a championship and getting a fair chance to play."

Newton signed a one-year deal to return to the Panthers in November 2021 after being released by the New England Patriots. His return to North Carolina was sparked by a shoulder injury to Sam Darnold, who was placed on injured reserve in November before returning for a Week 16 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in December. 

The 33-year-old appeared in eight games and went 0-5 in five starts. He completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards and four touchdowns against five interceptions in those games. He also rushed for 230 yards and five scores. 

Newton has significantly regressed as a passer since undergoing shoulder surgery in January 2019 during his first stint with the Panthers, and his opportunity to be a starter in the NFL seems slim at this point. 

In 15 games with the Patriots in 2020, all as a starter, he completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He attempted just 368 passes, the lowest of his career in seasons where he played at least 14 games. 

For comparison, he completed 67.9 percent of his passes for 3,395 yards, 24 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in 14 games during the 2018 season. He attempted 471 passes.

While there's always a possibility Newton returns to the Panthers in 2022, the franchise already has Darnold, Phillip Walker and rookie Matt Corral on the roster, meaning his chances are probably pretty slim.

In addition, the Panthers have not closed the door on acquiring Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports. If they're able to swing a deal, Newton's chances of suiting up for Carolina would likely be slim to none.