The Carolina Panthers had big shoes to fill when they released longtime quarterback Cam Newton during the offseason.
The former No. 1 overall pick has an even bigger task ahead.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday evening that Newton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots, and he will compete with Brian Hoyer and Jarrett Stidham for the right to follow Tom Brady as New England’s starting quarterback. The AP reported Newton could make as much as $7.5 million. New England and Carolina are scheduled to play a preseason game Aug. 20 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Newton, 31, was the first overall pick by the Panthers in the 2011 NFL Draft out of Auburn and spent the past nine seasons in Carolina. He was the NFL’s MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 2015, leading the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 where Carolina lost 24-10.
But Newton struggled with injuries that last two seasons, first to his throwing shoulder in 2018 — when Carolina went just 6-8 with him under center — and then an ongoing foot ailment that ended his season after the Panthers lost their first two games of the 2019 campaign. The team, under new coach Matt Rhule, released him March 24.
Now Newton — who is reportedly healthy — will try and replace arguably the great quarterback in NFL history in Brady. The nearly 43-year-old Brady, amid rumors of discontent with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason and also lured former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski out of retirement and to join him in Florida via trade.
Brady won six titles in nine Super Bowls in New England.
Newton has thrown for 29,041 yard and 182 touchdowns, along with 108 interceptions, in 125 games during his NFL career with the Panthers. He has also rushed for 4,806 yards and 58 touchdowns in his career.
Carolina signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million contract a week before Newton was released.