The deal, which is pending a physical, 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.
The Panthers, who selected Newton with the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, released him following the 2019 season after he had struggled for several years with shoulder and foot injuries. They began a new regime with coach Matt Rhule at that time.
The Panthers (4-5) began searching for options at quarterback after starter Sam Darnold suffered a shoulder injury Sunday that will sideline him four to six weeks.
Rhule said the team was considering any and all options, but he wouldn’t get into “hypotheticals” when asked specifically about Newton.
“My job is to try to win right now,” Rhule said Wednesday. “Our fans aren’t paying money to watch us win in two years. At the same time, you’re trying to build a Super Bowl-caliber team. So it’s a balancing act of doing what’s right long term and trying to win at the same time. Many times those are the same thing.
“There are four teams in the NFC with more than six wins. Everyone else is about like us. Lots of teams right now in the NFL are trying to figure out how to get past .500 and have a good year and win in the second half of the year. … My job is to try to win.”
Newton missed three practices before the season thanks to what the Patriots called a COVID-19 protocol “misunderstanding,” but coach Bill Belichick said the quarterback’s vaccination status didn’t factor into the decision to release him.
The 32-year-old quarterback, in a video published to his YouTube channel last month, said he’s been vaccinated and wants to continue playing.
“Hell, yeah, I still want to play football,” Newton said in the video. “I still get that urge to go out and perform and do something that I’ve been doing since I was 7 years old.”
Newton last played for Carolina in the second game of the 2019 season before being sidelined after aggravating a Lisfranc injury suffered in the third preseason game.
In nine seasons with Carolina, Newton is the franchise’s career leader in passing yards (29,041), passing touchdowns (182) and rushing touchdowns (58). He ranks third with 4,806 rushing yards.
According to Elias Sports Bureau data, Newton is 959 passing yards and 194 rushing yards from becoming the first player in NFL history to reach the 30K-5K club for a single team — although Russell Wilson needs just 426 rushing yards to reach the milestone with the Seattle Seahawks.
Newton threw for 35 touchdowns and ran for 10 more during his 2015 MVP season, when he led Carolina to a 15-1 regular-season record.