Jan 9, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prior to the game at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Seeking NFL comeback, Cam Newton to throw at Auburn’s pro day

Former NFL Most Valuable Player Cam Newton revealed Monday that he will throw passes for scouts attending Auburn’s pro day on Tuesday.

Newton, who starred at Auburn and won the Heisman Trophy there in 2010, is looking for a new team after he went unsigned throughout the 2022 season.

Newton announced his intentions to work out at Auburn in a video posted to social media that ended with him saying, “Ain’t 32 (expletive) better than me, you dig?”

Newton last appeared with the Carolina Panthers in 2021 as a midseason addition after starter Sam Darnold was injured. He split playing time with P.J. Walker and wound up starting five of the eight games he played, throwing for 684 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions and running for another five touchdowns.

Drafted No. 1 overall by Carolina in 2011, Newton spent 2011-19 with the Panthers, winning Rookie of the Year in 2011 and MVP in 2015. He led Carolina to a Super Bowl berth in his MVP season. He started 15 games for the New England Patriots in 2020 but was released shortly before the 2021 season began as the Patriots preferred to start rookie Mac Jones.

In 148 career games (144 starts), Newton has thrown for 32,382 yards, 194 touchdowns and 123 interceptions. He has also rushed for 5,628 yards and 75 touchdowns, the latter an NFL record for quarterbacks.

–Field Level Media

Mar 1, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer during the NFL Scouting Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers, GM Scott Fitterer have ‘conviction’ on top prospects

The Carolina Panthers are sold on the players expected to be selected at the top of the 2023 NFL Draft, general manager Scott Fitterer told reporters Monday. Still, he gave no indiction as to whom the team will select next month with the No. 1 overall pick, acquired in a trade with the Chicago Bears.

Fitterer apparently liked what he saw of the players at the recent NFL Scouting Combine — the Panthers presumably will draft a quarterback — enough to give the Bears a pair of first-round picks, two-second rounders and wide receiver D.J. Moore to move up from the No. 9 slot.

“At the combine, I said, ‘If you’re gonna go up, you better have conviction.’ And we have conviction on players at that top, that we feel good about,” Fitterer said.

He said no decision has been made as to whether the Panthers will take former Alabama QB Bryce Young, ex-Ohio State QB C.J. Shroud or someone else.

“Yeah, we’re still going through the process right now,” he said. “Obviously, we have our ideas. You’re not gonna make a move like that without having that pretty much cemented. But now, we’re going through the process of talking to the players and really getting to know them.”

The Panthers will be at the pro days for all four of the top QBs in the coming weeks — Stroud, Young, Will Levis and Anthony Richardson.

The Panthers signed 12-year veteran Andy Dalton to serve as a mentor to a young quarterback.

“Obviously, I’ve played a ton of ball; there’s a lot that can come from that,” Dalton told the team’s website. “I started as a rookie; a lot will come from that. There’s a lot I’ve done in my career, a ton of experience I can bring to help that room.”

Dalton, 35, was 6-8 as a starter last season for the New Orleans Saints.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA;  Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen (19) celebrates his touchdown against the Chicago Bears during the first half at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers sign former Vikings WR Adam Thielen

The Carolina Panthers signed free agent wide receiver Adam Thielen on Sunday.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The 32-year-old veteran had spent his first nine NFL seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, his home-state team where he signed as an undrafted free agent before the 2014 campaign.

Thielen became a two-time Pro Bowler and has career totals of 534 receptions for 6,682 yards and 55 touchdowns (plus one rushing touchdown) in 135 games (101 starts). Only Hall of Famers Cris Carter and Randy Moss caught more passes in a Vikings uniform than Thielen.

In 2022, Thielen started all 17 games and finished with 70 catches, 716 yards and six TDs.

The Vikings released Thielen March 10 in a cost-cutting move. He signed a four-year, $64 million extension in April 2019, and the sides agreed to restructure the deal in 2021 and 2022. Minnesota saved $6.4 million against the 2023 salary cap while taking a dead-cap hit of $13.6 million.

The Panthers needed to add an experienced receiver after trading their former No. 1 wideout, DJ Moore, to the Chicago Bears this month in the deal for the No. 1 overall draft pick of the 2023 draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 29, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst (88) runs with the ball during the first half of the AFC Championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Panthers reach agreement with TE Hayden Hurst

The Carolina Panthers are in agreement on a three-year deal with free agent tight end Hayden Hurst, ESPN and NFL Network reported Wednesday.

Financial terms were not reported. The new league year begins Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.

Hurst, 29, gives the Panthers a No. 1 tight end. Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble are also on the roster.

Hurst caught 52 passes for 414 yards and two touchdowns in 13 games (all starts) for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022. He missed time with a calf injury.

Hurst has 177 catches for 1,718 yards and 14 TDs in 70 career games (31 starts) for Baltimore (2018-19), Atlanta (2020-21) and the Bengals. He was selected No. 25 overall by the Ravens in the 2018 draft.

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA;  New Orleans Saints quarterback Andy Dalton (14) runs to the locker room after the game against the Carolina Panthers during the second half at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Andy Dalton joining Panthers on 2-year deal

The Red Rifle is heading to his fourth team in four years, as quarterback Andy Dalton is signing a two-year, $10 million contract with the Carolina Panthers, multiple reports said Tuesday.

Dalton has racked up 29 starts for the Dallas Cowboys (2020), Chicago Bears (2021) and New Orleans Saints (2022) after his nine-year stint as the starter of the Cincinnati Bengals ended after 2019.

Dalton, 35, is more likely to be a mentor and insurance plan than a starter in Carolina, as the Panthers traded up with the Bears to acquire the No. 1 overall pick on Friday and are expected to select their franchise QB of the future.

In 14 starts for the Saints last season, Dalton completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 2,871 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

The three-time Pro Bowler has thrown for 38,150 yards, 244 touchdowns and 144 picks in 166 games (162 starts) in his 12 NFL campaigns.

ESPN reported that Dalton’s deal includes $8 million fully guaranteed.

–Field Level Media

Jan 1, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the third quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Sam Darnold to sign 1-year deal with 49ers

Quarterback Sam Darnold will sign a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers, ESPN and The Athletic reported Monday.

The deal cannot be made official until Wednesday, the first day of the new league year.

The 49ers agreed to terms with Darnold the same day that longtime Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo reportedly agreed to sign with the Las Vegas Raiders.

San Francisco also has young guns Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, but both will be coming off surgeries in 2023. Lance was the team’s starter at the outset of the 2022 season before an ankle injury; Purdy became a folk hero for taking over after Lance and Garoppolo went down, winning every start until he, too, was injured during the NFC Championship game.

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, played three years with the New York Jets and two years with the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers traded for Darnold from the Jets in April 2021 and picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract, which expired following the 2022 season.

Darnold failed to hold down the starting position in Carolina. He lost a quarterback competition with Baker Mayfield after the Panthers traded for him last August; he then suffered an ankle injury during a preseason game that caused him to miss more than two months.

Due to Mayfield’s and PJ Walker’s ineffectiveness, Darnold started six games upon his return from injury, throwing for 1,143 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.

In 56 career games (55 starts) with the Panthers and Jets, Darnold has thrown for 11,767 yards, 61 touchdowns and 55 interceptions. He has also scored 12 rushing touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

November 27, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (99) after the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Panthers signing S Vonn Bell, DL Shy Tuttle

The Carolina Panthers have agreed to terms with safety Vonn Bell and defensive tackle Shy Tuttle, according to multiple reports Monday.

Bell, 28, and fellow Bengals safety Jessie Bates are both unrestricted free agents.

Tuttle agreed to a three-year contract worth $19.5 million, ESPN and NFL Network reported, and helps the Panthers in their transition to a 3-4 defense.

Tuttle gets $13 million guaranteed at signing, per the reports.

Both deals can become official on Wednesday, the first day of the new league year.

Bell was a second-round pick in 2016 by the New Orleans Saints. He had a career-high four interceptions last season with the Bengals.

Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said losing Bell and Bates would be a “dark day” in Cincinnati because of all the contributions they make to the team that go unseen.

Tuttle, 27, signed with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent out of Tennessee in 2019. He recorded 143 tackles, four sacks and 14 passes defensed in 63 games (33 starts) for the Saints.

He’ll likely play nose tackle for the Panthers.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson (7) takes the field during the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers rework LB Shaq Thompson’s contract

Carolina Panthers linebacker Shaq Thompson signed a two-year contract to reduce his $24.5 million salary cap hit for 2023 and avoid being released.

Thompson’s deal was announced by the Panthers on Saturday, one day after reportedly acquiring the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft from the Chicago Bears. Carolina did not disclose terms of the deal. But the Panthers will unload wide receiver DJ Moore in that swap with the Bears, which also helped to reset their cap situation. Moore is owed over $20 million for each of the next three seasons.

Thompson, 28, was a first-round pick in 2015 and part of a fearsome linebacker corps along with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis.

Coming off of his fourth consecutive 100-tackle season, Thompson is set for a position switch. The Panthers are moving to a 3-4 defense under new coordinator Ejiro Evero.

“Those are all questions that are above my pay grade, but if you talk about the player, that’s definitely a player I really admire, and I think he’s a heck of a player,” Evero said of Thompson’s fit in the 304. “Definitely would love to coach him. (He fits) very well. He’s an inside backer, a three-down player. He’s a guy that can play the run game. He’s good in zone coverage, can see the quarterback, can match running backs; he fits just right.”

–Field Level Media

Jan 31, 2023; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich speaks at his introductory press conference at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Griffin Zetterberg-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Panthers acquire No. 1 pick from Bears in blockbuster

Carolina is on the clock after the Panthers traded two first-round picks, second-rounders in 2023 and 2025 and wide receiver DJ Moore to the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, several reports said Friday night.

The Panthers are in position to draft the quarterback of their choice, owning the top pick for the first time since selecting Auburn quarterback Cam Newton in 2011.

Chicago general manager Ryan Poles made his intentions clear at the NFL Scouting Combine — he intended to trade the pick to the highest bidder while committing to Justin Fields at quarterback.

The Bears stand to lose out on several top-ranked prospects in the deal by taking Carolina’s first-round pick in the 2023 draft, No. 9 overall, and the Panthers’ second-rounder (61st). But Poles made it clear in Indianapolis that the Bears felt they would get a “great player” regardless of the deal, which sets the franchise up with multiple first-round picks for the 2024 draft and multiple second-rounders in the 2025 draft.

Carolina hired Frank Reich as head coach after Matt Rhule was let go during the 2022 season. The Panthers made multiple trades in an attempt to fill the quarterback spot under Rhule.

But former No. 1 pick Baker Mayfield didn’t pan out last season and Sam Darnold, originally drafted third overall by the New York Jets in 2018, failed to secure the position.

Other quarterback-needy teams who had hoped to move up in a trade with the Bears included the Indianapolis Colts (fourth overall) and Las Vegas Raiders (seventh overall).

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers safety Sean Chandler (34) reacts after not being able to stop a winning reception by Minnesota Vikings wide receiver K.J. Osborn (17) in overtime at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers S Sean Chandler suspended 2 games for PEDs

The NFL suspended Carolina Panthers safety Sean Chandler for two games on Monday for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Chandler, 26, is set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

The suspension is for the first two games of the 2023 regular season. He is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.

Chandler played in all 17 games in 2022, logging 320 snaps on special teams (second on the team) and 74 snaps on defense. He recorded 19 tackles.

Undrafted out of Temple in 2018, Chandler has recorded 93 tackles, two fumble recoveries and one sack in 64 games (seven starts) with the New York Giants (2018-20) and Panthers.

–Field Level Media