Cam Newton struggled with the Carolina Panthers last season, but the veteran quarterback told The Pivot Podcast on Tuesday (via Joe Person of The Athletic) that the circumstances of his return held him back:
"In Carolina, I put myself into another f--ked up situation. I signed on Thursday and was playing on Sunday. The next week, I started and I was still trying to learn the offense...Before I allow the narrative to be made that I don't have it anymore, I'm just saying that I put myself in a f--ked up situation. That had a ricochet effect toward how people think of me."
Newton had gone unsigned after the New England Patriots released him shortly before the 2021 season. When Panthers starter Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury, the team turned to Newton on a one-year, $10 million deal with $4.5 million guaranteed.
The veteran appeared in eight games (five starts), totaling four passing touchdowns, five rushing touchdowns and five interceptions.
His time on the field was still rightfully earned thanks to a hot start.
After Darnold's injury, P.J. Walker got the start with the newly signed Newton only active in a backup role. The 33-year-old saw nine snaps in his first game, recording one passing touchdown and one rushing score in a 34-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals.
Newton earned the starting role the next week and played well, finishing 21-of-27 for 189 yards and two touchdowns, plus 46 rushing yards and one more touchdown in a 27-21 loss to the then-Washington Football Team.
Things went downhill from there, with Newton struggling with his accuracy and the Panthers losing each of his four remaining starts as they fell out of playoff contention.
The three-time Pro Bowler and 2015 MVP has not been an effective passer since 2018, although injuries certainly slowed him down in recent years. He also hasn't had a full offseason with any team since his last stint with Carolina.
Newton, who is still a free agent, will hope to get another chance in which he can learn the playbook and fully prepare for his on-field duties.