Carolina quarterback Cam Newton struggled big-time on Sunday in what might have been his final home start as a member of the Panthers.
Newton completed 7-of-13 passes for 61 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception in an ugly 32-6 loss to the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Newton started the game, only to eventually see Sam Darnold take to the field after the aforementioned struggles. For Darnold, it was his first appearance since back in Week 9.
At 5-10 on the season, the Panthers are toast. They will play out the rest of the season while looking forward to what promises to be a franchise-altering offseason for the organization — one that likely won’t include Newton returning to the Panthers after signing earlier in the campaign.
Newton talked about this potentially being his final home start following the game.
What’s next for Newton and the Panthers?
Newton, 32, heads into Week 17 against the New Orleans Saints having thrown just four touchdown passes against five interceptions since rejoining the Panthers ahead of Week 10.
It seems highly unlikely that Newton will return to the Panthers in 2022. Since initially leaving the Panthers ahead of the 2020 season, he has not been a starting-caliber quarterback.
- Cam Newton stats past two seasons: 63% completion rate, 3,341 yards, 12 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 78.2 rating
As you can see, these numbers don’t even come close to comparing to what we saw from Newton ahead of the injuries he suffered as a member of the Panthers back in 2019.
As for the Panthers, they have $18.86 million committed to Darnold for next season after picking up his option for the 2022 campaign following the blockbuster trade with the New York Jets.
Newton signed a mere one-year contract after being a surprise release of the New England Patriots ahead of Week 1.
These are two major backdrops as the Panthers attempt to figure out the quarterback position following what has been a disappointing 2021 season.
Previously, reports suggested that Carolina had interest in Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans before more than 20 women accused the Pro Bowler of sexual misconduct.
Whether it’s Darnold or someone outside of the organization, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule will have options who are better than Newton available. This is especially true considering that Rhule has no built-in relationship with Newton and the fact that the head coach will be on the hot seat in 2022.
Now, what does this mean for Newton? Considering his regressed skill set and the numbers we have seen over the past two seasons, no team is going to sign him as a starter. Short of Newton agreeing to be a backup, these next two weeks could very well be the final games he plays as an NFL quarterback.
It’s a sad culmination to what was seemingly a career destined for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.