From the two-touchdowns-in-two-touches return at Arizona to his fog-shrouded “Coming Home” introduction against Washington, Cam Newton showed again he knows how to make an entrance.
But the bigger question looming over the final six games of this up-and-down Panthers season is whether there will be another awkward and painful exit for Newton after it’s over.
Since owner David Tepper hired Matt Rhule in January 2020, the Panthers have twice swung and missed at the quarterback position before bringing back the guy they moved on from in the first place. And while it’s a small sample, Newton already has shown he’s a better option than Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Darnold.
What happens next depends in large part on how the next month and a half plays out. If Newton leads the Panthers (5-6) to the playoffs to break a three-year postseason drought, it would be tough to move on from a franchise icon whose return has rejuvenated the fan base.
When the Panthers reached out to Newton after Darnold injured his shoulder this month, the sides discussed a two-year deal before agreeing on a one-year contract worth $6 million. The deal includes incentives that would push it to $10 million if the Panthers win the Super Bowl and Newton is the game’s MVP.
The Panthers are open to bringing Newton back as the starter in 2022. But they want to see how the 32-year-old, 2015 league MVP performs while tailoring the offense to fit his skill set following two surgeries on his throwing shoulder near the end of his first stint in Charlotte.