Patriots

Cam Newton's comeback tour in Carolina hits snag

Patriots

Less than two months after resurfacing with the Carolina Panthers, former New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton looks to be done as the team's starter.

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule announced Wednesday that Sam Darnold, who returned to the lineup in relief of Newton in a blowout loss to Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend, will get the start against the New Orleans Saints in Week 17.

Carolina (5-10) has lost five straight games, all with Newton as starter, and has been eliminated from the postseason for the fourth year in a row. Sam Darnold, who last started for Carolina in a 24-6 loss to New England in which he was picked off three times in Week 9, returns as QB1.

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Newton signed with the Panthers, where he spent the first nine years of his career after being drafted first overall in 2011, prior to joining the post-Brady Patriots in 2020. He was released prior to the start of the regular season in 2021 after losing out to Mac Jones in the team's quarterback competition.

Newton played well in his first two appearances back in Carolina, completing 24 of 31 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. But he has been arguably the worst quarterback in the NFL over his last four games, completing 47 percent of his passes with only one touchdown and five interceptions.

Newton has averaged less than 122 yards through the air over his last four starts and has recorded a 44.5 passer rating, worst in the NFL since Week 12 among qualified passers.

 

Carolina guaranteed Newton $4.5 million for the remainder of 2021 when it signed him in early November. He'll be a free agent after the season.

Darnold has played just as poorly as Newton in 2021, turning in a 70.8 passer rating that's 30th among 32 qualified passers. With Panthers quarterback P.J. Walker currently in health and safety protocols, it's entirely possible we haven't seen the last of Newton.