Cam Newton will make an emotional return to the Carolina Panthers in Week 9 of the 2021 season, but will the iconic signal-caller be starting by then?
There promises to be plenty of emotion when Cam Newton makes his return to the Carolina Panthers for the first time since he was shown the door in messy circumstances last year. According to Joe Person of The Athletic, the New England Patriots visit Bank of America Stadium in Week 9 of the 2021 season, which promises to be a highly charged atmosphere with fans back in the stands after limited numbers last time out due to COVID-19.
Newton was incredibly bitter following Carolina’s decision to move on. There is little doubt that a player who meant and did so much for the organization deserved better treatment and this conclusion doesn’t look that great in hindsight considering how much Teddy Bridgewater struggled on his way to a 4-12 record as a starter in 2020.
Bridgewater has since been traded to the Denver Broncos after the Panthers opted to bring Sam Darnold from the New York Jets in the hope he can reignite his career after a torrid three-year spell at MetLife Stadium. This quarterback uncertainty is a far cry from the mid-2010s when Newton was at the peak of his powers and there might be some life left in his career if he can utilize the improved weapons acquired by Bill Belichick this offseason.
However, it does appear as if Newton is on a short leash in New England after the team decided to use the No. 15 overall selection on Mac Jones. The Alabama prospect is coming off a phenomenal campaign to lead the Crimson Tide to yet another national championship, throwing for 4,500 yards, 41 touchdowns, just four interceptions, and securing a passer rating of 203.1 in the process.
Belichick has stated Newton is the starter going into the season. And it’s easy to forget he was playing at a decent level in 2020 before contracting COVID-19, which saw his positive momentum halted and no matter how hard the player tried, he couldn’t get it back.
Newton’s throwing came under criticism down the stretch, although the receivers also need to take their share of the blame. If the same complications come around this season then the Patriots might decide to throw Jones in at the deep end and deny the 2015 NFL MVP a chance to get one over on his former team.
Carolina Panthers fans will give Cam Newton a hero’s welcome.
This won’t stop the Panthers’ loyal fanbase from giving Newton a hero’s welcome back to Carolina. They never got to say goodbye properly to one of the team’s greatest-ever players and whether he is starting or on the sidelines, nothing will get in the way of this.
Having Jones breathing down his neck might be all the motivation Newton needs to get his career trending in the right direction once again. One couldn’t find quarterbacks who are more contrasting from a skill standpoint, but the rookie does fit the mold of a usual Belichick offense that’s been so successful over the last two decades.
Knowing Newton as we all do, there is no force on earth that will prevent him from missing this game. But how he performs over the first eight weeks of the season will ultimately determine whether or not he’ll be under center.