Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers to start QB Sam Darnold against Saints

Carolina quarterback Sam Darnold will start Sunday at New Orleans, Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Wednesday.

Darnold started the first nine games this season before going on injured reserve with a broken shoulder blade.

He returned to action last Sunday, relieving Cam Newton and completing 15 of 32 passes for 190 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions in a 32-6 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Darnold, 24, is 4-5 as Carolina’s starter and has completed 58.3 percent of his passes for 2,176 yards with seven TDs and 11 interceptions. He has also rushed for 196 yards and five touchdowns.

Newton, 32, was signed on Nov. 12 after Darnold’s injury and is 0-5 as the starter. He has completed 54.8 percent of his passes for 684 yards with four scores and five picks. The former NFL MVP has rushed for 225 yards and five touchdowns.

Backup QB P.J. Walker was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday along with pass rusher Haason Reddick.

After visiting the Saints (7-8) in Week 17, the Panthers (5-10) will close out the season at Tampa Bay on Jan. 9.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers won’t name starter, Sam Darnold likely to practice

After four consecutive defeats, the Carolina Panthers have not committed to a quarterback this week and could welcome back Sam Darnold into the fray.

Darnold has been out since a Week 9 shoulder injury, with the Panthers going 1-4 in his absence. Cam Newton was signed by the Panthers on Nov. 12 and has started each of the last four games, but has been ineffective in the passing game.

The Panthers are just 5-9 and guaranteed to finish with a fourth consecutive losing season.

With Darnold set to see a doctor Monday and possibly get clearance to return to the field, head coach Matt Rhule declined to say Monday who his quarterback will be for Sunday’s home game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“If Sam is healthy, we will practice him and see kind of where he’s at,” Rhule told reporters Monday. “I think it’s a good opportunity to shake some of the rust off him and see where he’s at in the process. I can’t speculate who will be the full-time guy until we have some more information.”

Newton has not thrown for 190 yards in any of the four games he has started. He played his first nine seasons with the team, guiding them to the Super Bowl in 2015, after he was the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2011.

Newton, 32, has been effective running the ball, with a rushing touchdown in each of the last four games, to go along with 71 rushing yards against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday. But he has also fumbled four times in the past two weeks, losing one, and has thrown four interceptions in the last three games.

Darnold, 24, helped the Panthers to a 3-0 start, but that was followed by a four-game losing streak. He threw for 1,986 yards in nine games, with seven TDs, but also threw 11 interceptions.

Until Darnold gets clearance, the Panthers will have to look for improvement from Newton.

“We’ll continue to coach Cam, and continue to build off the good things he’s doing,” Rhule said.

–Field Level Media

17. Panthers (26): As prodigal son Cam Newton prepares to reclaim QB1 status in Carolina, you have to wonder if injured Sam Darnold -- he's guaranteed nearly $19 million in 2022 -- is already entering the backup phase of a career that doesn't yet span four seasons.

Syndication Usa Today

Cam Newton to start for Panthers on Sunday

Cam Newton will be the starting quarterback for the Carolina Panthers on Sunday against the visiting Washington Football Team.

Head coach Matt Rhule confirmed Friday that Newton “will take the first snap,” but also said P.J. Walker will be active and will have a role in the offense.

“We have plays for Cam, plays for P.J.,” Rhule said. “P.J. we think is an excellent quarterback, Cam can make a difference, so we’ll use both of them.”

The Panthers signed Newton to a free-agent deal on Nov. 12 after putting quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) on injured reserve. It marked a return to Carolina for Newton, whom the franchise drafted No. 1 overall in 2011.

Newton, 32, was released prior to the 2020 season and spent last season with the New England Patriots.

He played nine snaps and accounted for two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing) in last Sunday’s 34-10 win against the Arizona Cardinals, a game started by Walker.

When the Panthers (5-5) face Washington (3-6) on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C., the coach on the opposite sideline will be Ron Rivera.

Rivera was Newton’s head coach in Carolina from 2011-19, a stretch that included an MVP season for Newton in 2015 and a loss to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

–Field Level Media

Cam Newton yells "I'm back!" after scoring a rushing touchdown against the Cardinals.

Nfl Carolina Panthers At Arizona Cardinals

Cam Newton preparing to start for Panthers vs. WFT

Cam Newton will practice like the starting quarterback this week for the Carolina Panthers, even though coach Matt Rhule stopped just short of naming him the starter for Sunday’s game against the Washington Football Team.

The Panthers signed Newton, 32, to a free-agent deal last week after putting quarterback Sam Darnold (shoulder) on injured reserve. It marked a return to Carolina for Newton, whom the franchise selected No. 1 overall in the 2011 draft.

He was released prior to the 2020 season and spent last season with the New England Patriots. This week in practice, Newton will take most of the first-team reps.

“He did a great job (Sunday) having 10 plays that he was kind of ready for,” Rhule said Monday about Newton’s appearance in Sunday’s 34-10 win over the Arizona Cardinals, a game started by quarterback PJ Walker. “We’ll start getting him ready. If he’s ready to start, great.

“If he’s not quite ready to do everything, obviously PJ’s available. It’s kind of that plan right now.”

Against the Cardinals, Newton was in the game for nine snaps. He was 3-of-4 passing for eight yards and ran three times for 14 yards. He threw for one touchdown and ran for another.

The coach of Sunday’s opponent is Ron Rivera, who spent nearly nine seasons as Newton’s coach.

“I haven’t communicated with him, but good for him,” Rivera said Friday. “It’s an opportunity to play where he started.”

Newton won the 2015 NFL MVP with the Panthers, the same season he and Rivera led the team to the Super Bowl, a 24-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.

The Panthers are 5-5 on the season, currently in possession of the No. 7 seed in the NFC. Washington is 3-6.

–Field Level Media

Nov 7, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers place QB Sam Darnold (shoulder) on injured reserve

The Carolina Panthers placed Sam Darnold on injured reserve Friday, one day after they signed fellow quarterback Cam Newton to a contract.

Coach Matt Rhule said Darnold will be out at least four weeks with an injured throwing shoulder. Darnold was diagnosed earlier this week with an incomplete scapula fracture.

P.J. Walker is expected to start the Panthers’ game against the Arizona Cardinals (8-1) on Sunday in Glendale, Ariz.

Walker, 26, won his only previous NFL start last season, completing 24 of 34 passes for 258 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Carolina’s 20-0 defeat of the Detroit Lions on Nov. 22, 2020.

After a 3-0 start, the Panthers have lost five of their past six, including a 24-6 defeat to the New England Patriots on Sunday. Darnold went 16-for-33 passing in that game with 172 yards, three interceptions and zero touchdowns.

Carolina acquired Darnold in April from the New York Jets in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. They later shipped Teddy Bridgewater to Denver, lining Darnold up to earn his place as the franchise quarterback.

Darnold, 24, has started all nine games for Carolina in 2021 and has thrown for 1,986 yards, seven touchdowns and a league high-tying 11 interceptions with a 59.5 percent completion rate.

The Jets selected Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 draft.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jacob Eason (9) throws for an interception Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021, during a game against the Los Angeles Rams at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Seahawks claim former UW QB Jacob Eason off waivers

The Seattle Seahawks claimed quarterback Jacob Eason off waivers Wednesday, one day after he was let go by the Indianapolis Colts.

Eason is a native of Washington state and played collegiately in Seattle at the University of Washington.

The Seahawks added to their quarterback depth as Russell Wilson remains sidelined with a broken finger on his throwing hand. Wilson was placed on injured reserve Friday.

Seattle started Geno Smith last week and also has Jake Luton on the practice squad.

Coach Pete Carroll said Monday that the team had “talked to” free agent quarterback Cam Newton, but that hasn’t materialized into an agreement. Newton, a former league MVP, recently announced he received his COVID-19 vaccination; his vaccination status was perceived as one reason why the New England Patriots released him before the season.

Eason, 23, appeared in one game this season for Indianapolis, completing 2 of 5 passes for 25 yards and an interception in the Colts’ Week 2 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Eason played the last two series of the game after starter Carson Wentz left with an ankle injury.

The Colts waived Eason in favor of sticking with two other back-ups, Brett Hundley and Sam Ehlinger, the latter of whom was activated from IR Tuesday.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Pete Carroll: Seahawks have talked with Cam Newton

Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said Monday the team reached out to free agent Cam Newton after fellow quarterback Russell Wilson sustained a finger injury.

Carroll, however, appeared to qualify his admission to 710 ESPN Seattle as the team essentially doing its homework on all available quarterbacks.

“Just so you know, we have talked to him. We’re talking to everybody that could help us,” Carroll said.

Newton, a former NFL Most Valuable Player, has been out of work since the New England Patriots released him on Aug. 31. The Patriots opted to go with first-round pick Mac Jones as their starting quarterback.

One impediment to his return had been his COVID-19 vaccination status, however Newton said in a video he posted to YouTube Sunday night that he now is vaccinated. Players who aren’t vaccinated face a five-day waiting period between signing with a team and reporting for duty.

Newton, 32, has passed for 31,698 yards and 190 touchdowns and rushed for 5,398 yards and 70 TDs in 140 games (139 starts) with the Carolina Panthers (2011-19) and Patriots. He won MVP honors and guided the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2015 season.

Geno Smith threw for 209 yards in the Seahawks’ 23-20 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night. His fumble in the waning minutes of overtime led to Chris Boswell’s game-winning 37-yard field goal.

During Seattle’s 26-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Oct. 7, Wilson sustained a ruptured tendon and a fracture-dislocation of the middle finger on his throwing hand. He had surgery the following day, with a reported timetable of four to eight weeks to return.

Wilson, 32, had not missed a game since entering the league in 2012. His ironman streak of 149 consecutive games officially ended on Sunday.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) throws the ball prior to the game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Free agent QB Cam Newton now vaccinated

Veteran quarterback Cam Newton remains unsigned but not unvaccinated, NFL Network reported Saturday.

The former league MVP has been out of work since the New England Patriots released him on Aug. 31.

One impediment to his return had been his COVID-19 vaccination status. Players who aren’t vaccinated face a five-day waiting period between signing with a team and reporting for duty, not an ideal situation for teams facing an immediate need for a new quarterback.

Newton, 32, is reportedly looking to catch on with a new employer, but only in a starting role.

The three-time Pro Bowl selection went 7-8 as the Patriots’ starter last season, passing for 2,657 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He rushed for 592 yards and 12 scores.

New England opted to go with first-round pick Mac Jones as the starting quarterback this season.

Newton has passed for 31,698 yards and 190 touchdowns and rushed for 5,398 yards and 70 TDs in 140 games (139 starts) with the Carolina Panthers (2011-19) and Patriots. He won Most Valuable Player honors and guided the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance during the 2015 season.

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton favored to WFT with Ryan Fitzpatrick out

If Cam Newton is truly open to being a backup and a mentor, an opportunity might present itself with the Washington Football Team.

The WFT placed starting quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on injured reserve Monday with a hip subluxation. The 38-year-old is expected to miss 6-8 weeks, with Taylor Heinicke taking the reigns of the offense.

Kyle Allen is also on the 53-man roster and his ties to coach Ron Rivera date back to their time together with the Carolina Panthers. He spent 2018-19 as the backup to Newton, who was with Rivera in Carolina from 2011-19, winning the NFL MVP award during the Panthers’ run to the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.

Fitzgerald’s injury has led to the WFT being listed as the +250 favorite by DraftKings to sign Newton, the 32-year-old who was released by New England on Aug. 31.

The next shortest odds belong to the Houston Texans at +500. Houston beat Jacksonville in Week 1 with veteran Tyrod Taylor. His current backup is rookie Davis Mills with Deshaun Watson expected to be inactive on a weekly basis this season if not traded.

The Dallas Cowboys are next at +650 with Cooper Rush and Will Grier the untested backups to Dak Prescott, who is coming off an impressive Week 1 performance following last season’s gruesome ankle injury. The Pittsburgh Steelers are being offered at +800 with Mason Rudolph the primary backup to Ben Roethlisberger.

Newton re-signed with the Patriots on a one-year deal, but New England opted to go with rookie Mac Jones. Newton said in a YouTube Live video last week that he would have been open to staying on as Jones’ mentor.

“Let me be honest with you. If they would have asked me, ‘Cam, we’re going to give the team to Mac, you’re going to be second-string; we expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,’ I would have said, ‘Absolutely,’” Newton said. “But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would have been uncomfortable.”

Heinicke signed a two-year extension in February after taking over for an ineffective Dwayne Haskins in Week 16 of last season. After having been out of the league for two seasons, Heinicke started the WFT’s wild card playoff loss against Tampa Bay.

The team brought in Fitzpatrick for veteran stability this offseason, but multiple sportsbooks told Field Level Media on Monday that Heinicke taking over the starting job had not yet resulted in notable movement on the WFT’s futures market.

The WFT is being offered at +250 by DraftKings to win the NFC East, behind only Dallas at +135. They are also ninth in the NFC at +2200 to reach the Super Bowl.

Rivera said Monday that Fitzpatrick will have a second opinion this week and that the franchise is not planning to make a significant move at quarterback ahead of Thursday night’s game against the New York Giants. The team did sign quarterback Kyle Shurmur to the practice squad.

Heinicke relieved Fitzpatrick on Sunday and finished 11-of-15 for 122 yards and a touchdown in the losing effort against the Los Angeles Chargers.

“He gave us a spark when we needed it,” Rivera said of Heinicke. “When Taylor stepped in and brought some energy, that was a huge plus. There is something about Taylor; that’s a huge positive. It brings a little something.”

–Field Level Media

Aug 29, 2021; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) looks on during the first half against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Cam Newton: Release from Pats ‘absolutely’ caught him by surprise

Free-agent quarterback Cam Newton didn’t hold back while addressing his release from the New England Patriots.

“Did it catch me by surprise being released? Absolutely,” Newton said Friday morning in a 45-minute YouTube Live video in which he sat down with his father, Cecil, at Westlake High School in Atlanta.

Newton, 32, said he believed he would have been cut from the Patriots regardless of his five-day absence due to a COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding” last month.

“During that time, I started seeing signs of change,” Newton said. “… Do I think this would have happened without me being away from the team for five days? Honestly, yes. It was going to happen. Did it help ease the decision? Yes.”

Newton said he “absolutely” would have accepted a backup role behind Mac Jones, however he questioned whether the rookie first-round pick would have been comfortable with that situation.

“Let me be honest with you. If they would have asked me, ‘Cam, we’re going to give the team to Mac, you’re going to be second-string; we expect you to be everything and some to guide him throughout this tenure,’ I would have said, ‘Absolutely,’” Newton said. “But listen, the truth of the matter is this: He would have been uncomfortable.”

The Patriots, who signed Newton to a one-year deal worth close to $14 million to return to the team in 2021, released him Aug. 31.

Speculation swirled that the Patriots cut Newton because he wasn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. Coach Bill Belichick said last week that played no role in the decision to release Newton.

As the Patriots starter last season, Newton — the 2015 NFL Most Valuable Player — completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 2,657 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He ran for 592 yards with 12 scores.

–Field Level Media