While some of Christopher Reeves’ Superman sequels left much to be desired—Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in particular was absolute dreck—the Carolina Panthers (4-5) are hoping a reunion with their own Superman, former franchise quarterback Cam Newton, can return the team to prominence—or at least, steady the ship until Sam Darnold returns to the field.
On Thursday, the Panthers announced that with Darnold out for at least four weeks with an incomplete fracture in his throwing shoulder, they’re welcoming back the 2015 NFL MVP with a one-year contract, per ESPN:
The deal is worth up to $10 million for the remainder of the season, including $4.5 million guaranteed and a $1.5 million roster bonus, a source told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Newton, who spent nine seasons with Carolina prior to signing with the New England Patriots as a free agent last summer, didn’t exactly have the most amicable split from the Panthers, but apparently, that’s all water under the bridge. After signing on the dotted line, he was unavailable for comment on Thursday but is expected to speak to the media on Friday.
“We had a heartfelt, sincere discussion with him and it wasn’t about anything in the past,’’ General Manager Scott Fitterer said. “It was more about what are we going to do now moving forward and what is Cam’s role and how can he help us and what can we do to support him.’’
For Head Coach Matt Rhule, it was all about timing. After Darnold suffered his shoulder injury on Sunday, the team began to explore its short-term options and Newton’s prior experience in Carolina made him an ideal fit.
“After [Fitterer and I] talked and deliberated, I went back to my office and called Cam [on Tuesday] night,” Rhule said. “I asked if he had any interest in coming back to the Carolina Panthers. He emphatically said, ‘Yes.’”
In August, after a lackluster season in New England forced the franchise to draft Newton’s heir apparent, rookie Mac Jones, the team released him. Reportedly, his reluctance to receive the COVID-19 vaccine was a contributing factor. But now that the 32-year-old has been vaccinated and is further removed from the series of injuries that derailed his career, he’ll be able to resume his high-level play on the field and return the Panthers to relevancy.