The 10 best quarterbacks in the history of the Carolina Panthers

There have been some very good (and very bad) quarterbacks in Carolina Panthers' franchise history.
Cam Newton
Cam Newton / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback is the most important position in the NFL. Many claim it's the most difficult spot to play in any sport.

They hold the keys to success in the palm of their hand. A franchise signal-caller can compensate for many deficiencies. A bad one has the scope to undo any positivity elsewhere on the depth chart.

The Carolina Panthers have had some good quarterbacks. They have some moderate ones. They've even had some that had no business being on an NFL field.

It was a minefield to pick out the 10 best in franchise history. After all, the Panthers are relatively new compared to most storied organizations and haven't exactly enjoyed a great deal of accomplishments - especially since David Tepper bought the team from Jerry Richardson for a then-record $2.275 billion.

Still, we gave it a shot anyway.

Criteria for selection:

There are many ways to acknowledge a quarterback's ranking among the greatest in the Carolina Panthers franchise history. How they performed in a competitive setting should be among the first to consider. Playoff success, individual accomplishments, and their influence within the locker room also factored heavily into the thought process.

Memorable moments, fan perception, and potential moving forward in one case also came into the equation. This list is a damning indictment of how things have unfolded for the Panthers at football's most important position. There's still time for that to change with new head coach Dave Canales leading the charge, but recent history doesn't inspire confidence.

Let's get to it.

10. Derek Anderson

Derek Anderson didn't see the field much throughout his Panthers career. So why does he find himself on this list?

As we said, it's slim pickings. Anderson's influence on the field was minimal. What cannot be disputed is the positive impact he had on Cam Newton's early development. Something that provided the No. 1 overall selection with a strong mentor in the locker room and an outstanding support system en route to taking the league by storm.

One could make a case for others, but that's a good enough reason given the options available.

9. Chris Weinke

If this was a list of almost any other NFL franchise, Chris Weinke would barely feature. The signal-caller mustered a 2-17 record as a starting option over his time with the Panthers. He was thrown into the starting lineup as a fourth-round selection in 2001 and suffered accordingly.

Weinke wasn't ready - one of many quarterbacks who the Panthers failed to develop correctly throughout their turbulent franchise history spanning three decades. The fact he lasted three more seasons with the team - albeit in a more limited role - was a testament to his work ethic despite lacking talent.

8. Kyle Allen

Kyle Allen's brief cameo as the Panthers' starter gave the organization a level of energy and unpredictability that was desperately needed. Cam Newton went to the shelf early in the 2019 campaign and his understudy took advantage. It wasn't perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. But it was exciting nonetheless.

Allen threw for 3,322 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 16 interceptions in 2019. With a new regime coming into the fold, this wasn't enough for an extended stay. However, it's more than enough to place him in the top 10. That's how bad it's been in Carolina aside from a select few.

7. Bryce Young

Potential alone puts Bryce Young on this list. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft went through untold turmoil as a rookie. He was let down badly by the Panthers, but things look much more promising under new head coach Dave Canales and general manager Dan Morgan.

Young flashed moments of quality. They were fleeting, but certainly enough to suggest he can become what the Panthers envisaged when they traded up from No. 9 to secure his services.

The former Alabama star has the opportunity and talent to shoot up this ranking soon. One could argue he's more naturally gifted than almost anybody on the list. With a more accomplished support system in place and schematic concepts that suit his strengths, Young has the chance to show why he was tabbed as a franchise-altering presence under center.

6. Sam Darnold

When the Panthers gave up a king's ransom to acquire Sam Darnold from the New York Jets, it was seen as a reclamation project that those in power could fix. The early signs were promising as the former first-round pick integrated smoothly and looked like someone who could provide this offense with a level of poise that hadn't been evident since Cam Newton was at the peak of his powers.

It didn't take long for this to unravel. Darnold fell into his old ways when tasked with too much. Footwork issues resurfaced and mistakes under pressure were rife down the stretch in 2021. The Panthers traded for Baker Mayfield during the 2022 offseason, leaving his career prospects in tatters.

Darnold kept plugging away and earned the respect of his teammates. Mayfield didn't fare much better under center and was released. The USC product got another chance to shine without Matt Rhule complicating matters and performed much better.

Carolina and Darnold parted ways in 2023. He spent last season with the San Francisco 49ers and is playing the mentor role to J.J. McCarthy with the Minnesota Vikings now. What might have been?

5. Teddy Bridgewater

Matt Rhule kicked off his Panthers' revolution by disposing of iconic figure Cam Newton in favor of Teddy Bridgewater. The veteran caught the eye filling in for Drew Brees on the New Orleans Saints in 2019 and deserved another shot at redemption. It wasn't perfect, but it was much better than most perceived at the time.

Bridgewater had obvious limitations. But he was largely efficient with the football, led by example, and got the ball into the hands of his primary playmakers. The fact D.J. Moore, Robbie Anderson, and Curtis Samuel all went over 1,000 yards despite an early injury to star running back Christian McCaffrey is a testament to the signal-caller.

Had Bridgewater fared better during game-winning or tying drives, things might have been different. That wasn't the case and those in power thought they could get more from Sam Darnold. Not for the first time, they were wrong.

Bridgewater was scapegoated and left after one season. He's now out of the league entirely and is looking to inspire the next generation as the head coach of Miami Northwestern.

4. Kerry Collins

Kerry Collins is one of the rare quarterbacks on this list who achieved a winning record with the Panthers. The veteran pocket passer went 22-20 throughout his tenure, earning Pro Bowl honors in 1996 after being taken No. 5 overall the previous year.

Collins oversaw an important transition period for the expansion franchise. He was their first real quarterback. A leader of men from relatively young who seemed to get the best out of a raw group of pass-catchers initially. But as with all good things associated with Carolina's history, it came to an end quickly.

The former Penn State became disgruntled in Carolina and was waived. He was picked up by the New Orleans Saints midway through the 1998 season. Collins played in the league for 13 more seasons, famously making the Pro Bowl aged 36 years old after a late-career renaissance with the Tennessee Titans.

3. Steve Beuerlein

Steve Beuerlein made an immense impact in a relatively short space of time. He'd enjoyed a decent enough career before joining the Panthers, but things took off thanks in no small part to his sensational efforts during the 1999 season.

Beuerlein's new lease of life was astonishing. He threw for 4,436 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 15 interceptions. The veteran proved he could still sling it with the best of them, leading the NFL in yards gained through the air and completions. This resulted in the first and only Pro Bowl selection of his career.

The former Notre Dame star lasted one more season in Carolina. Beuerlein's numbers went down but not drastically. Many saw him as a scapegoat as the Panthers wanted change in some capacity. But he did end up playing two more seasons with the Denver Broncos before eventually calling it a day.

Nobody who was around with forget Beuerlein's efforts in 1999. He was just a little bit too long in the tooth to keep it up.

2. Jake Delhomme

Jake Delhomme is the second-best quarterback in Panthers' franchise history. There's not much debate about that. The only disappointment was his outstanding efforts didn't come with an elusive first Super Bowl for the franchise.

The Panthers came close under Delhomme's guidance before faltering at the final hurdle. His deep bomb to Steve Smith Sr. against the St. Louis Rams - notoriously known as X-clown - remains one of the most iconic plays in franchise history. The former signal-caller is still closely associated with the organization, working for the team's radio station and lending a hand at other events when called upon.

Delhomme's leadership ability to come through in clutch situations and his 53-37 record from 90 starts ensured the Panthers got much more than they bargained for when they rescued the player from proverbial obscurity. His seven years in Charlotte are remembered with great fondness to this day.

1. Cam Newton

Who else?

One cannot discuss franchise players who've turned out for the Panthers and not place Cam Newton at the top. He's on the team's Mount Rushmore and completely galvanized a franchise on its knees as the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Newton wasted no time in taking the league by storm. His physical dual-threat playing style was something NFL fans hadn't seen from a quarterback before. It was a nightmare for opposing defenses and raised the performance levels of everyone around him.

The Auburn product won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year by a landslide. However, the best was yet to come.

His 2015 campaign was among the best seasons for any quarterback in league history. Newton was unstoppable, leading the Panthers to a 15-1 record and winning Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. He was also the NFL MVP in recognition of his sensational efforts.

Unfortunately, the Panthers fell at the last challenge when they were beaten by the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50. The wear and tear began taking its toll on Newton soon after. A series of frustrating injuries derailed a once prolific career. Matt Rhule parted ways with the player at his first opportunity.

Some fans remain bitter about how things were handled. Newton made a bombshell return in 2021, but it was fleeting. He's been out of the league ever since and is focusing his attention on making his way in the media world with great success so far.

There will never be another Newton. His flamboyance, brilliance, and ability to inspire provided a sense of belonging. He's still idolized and revered in equal measure. Had the Panthers done more to surround him with talent, who knows what they might have accomplished.

The 10 best quarterbacks in Carolina Panthers franchise history by passing yards:



Years with Panthers

Passing yards


Cam Newton

2015-2020, 2021



Jake Delhomme




Steve Beuerlein




Kerry Collins




Chris Weinke




Teddy Bridgewater




Sam Darnold




Kyle Allen




Bryce Young




Rodney Peete