New England Patriots

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - AUGUST 29: Cam Newton #1 of the New England Patriots looks on against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium on August 29, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

It’s starting to look like Cam Newton is about to be back on an NFL roster. And as it turns out, the Patriots may have played a role in making it happen.

Thursday morning, Jonathan M Alexander of The Charlotte Observer was the first to report that Newton would meet with his former team, the Carolina Panthers. Joe Person of The Athletic later added that the Panthers “hope to sign” Newton. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the plan was put in motion as early as Wednesday morning.

UPDATE: The Panthers have officially signed Newton, according to the team

This all comes after the Panthers were beaten by the Patriots 24-6 on Sunday. Quarterback Sam Darnold threw three interceptions in that game, and after the game was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. That Patriots loss was a culmination of what has been a rough stretch of football for the Panthers, who haven’t thrown for over 200 yards since Week 4.

With Darnold now on IR, head coach Matt Rhule said the team is “ready to explore any and all options” at quarterback. After signing veteran Matt Barkley on Tuesday, the team may not be done adding to the quarterback room which currently includes Barkley, presumed starter PJ Walker, and practice squad member James Morgan.

Signing with Carolina would be a full-circle move for Newton, who was drafted first overall by the Panthers in 2011. In 125 games over nine seasons in Carolina he set reset most of the franchises all-time passing records and led them to a Super Bowl in his MVP season in 2015. The Panthers released Newton prior to free agency in 2020, and he signed with the Patriots in July. After spending one season in New England, he was released in August.

Although he’s been a free agent for two-plus months, Newton has had chances to play. According to Sheena Quick of Fox Sports Radio, the 32-year-old quarterback turned down offers to sign with the Seattle Seahawks and Houston Texans earlier this season. Carolina represents a more logical landing spot for Newton, who is looking to reset his value around the NFL. He’d likely be benched upon Russell Wilson’s return from injury in Seattle, and Houston’s roster would be a step down from the talent he had around him in New England last year.

If Newton signs, he’d be eligible to begin practicing with the team almost immediately. The Panthers visit the the 8-1 Arizona Cardinals this Sunday, then next week host the Washington Football Team coached by Ron Rivera – Newton’s former head coach during his first stint in Carolina.

MORE: Panthers defensive lineman calls out Mac Jones

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.