NFL Insider Journal: Cam Newton-Panthers reunion is a win-win, plus Rodgers comes off easily and Week 10 picks

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Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule realized shortly after Carolina’s 24-6 loss to New England on Sunday that they would need help at quarterback. .

Then the MRI returned to Sam Darnold’s shoulder and showed he would miss at least a month and possibly more. So on Tuesday night Cam Newton got a call from the organization he once elevated to national relevance. On Wednesday night, they started talking about money and organized their trip back to Charlotte.

Newton was back at Bank of America Stadium on Thursday. He walked the pitch to the end zone, knelt at the goal post like he did in every pre-game warm-up from 2011 until his release in 2020 and said a prayer .

Cam Newton is back in Carolina because the Panthers believe they can advance to the playoffs. And David Tepper, now in his fourth season owned by the Panthers with three seasons already lost, has told people in the building that they have one goal and that is to make the playoffs this year.

Cam Newton is back in Carolina because the Panthers were desperate. Darnold wasn’t their first (Matthew Stafford) or second (Deshaun Watson) choice during the offseason, but he was the veteran quarterback they thought they could catch. They were of course in that position because Teddy Bridgewater’s poor play in the four-minute offense showed Tepper this team would not be competing for a playoff berth with now QB Denver.

And Cam Newton is back in Carolina because he wants to. I was told Newton was “looking forward to coming back,” according to a source on the team. He wasn’t going to play for nothing, and Panthers cap guru Samir Suleiman had to get creative with the one-year deal that will pay Newton up to $ 10 million if he can. win Super Bowl LVI.

Things between Newton and the team did not end in flames. The break-up is difficult and the Panthers probably want to do some things said and done again in 2020. But the building has not disclosed any negative stories about Newton after he left in an attempt to explain his release. The story was simple: his shoulder isn’t healthy, the team didn’t want to roll the dice for another year, and it was probably time for a fresh start.

The relationship was still fixable; Carolina just had to pick up the phone.

Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that Darnold is a dud. Over the past week, it has become clear that the Panthers need to get Newton.

I won’t be surprised if Newton is active on Sunday against the Cardinals as an emergency player or as a replacement for some special packages. I would expect Newton to have a decent enough understanding of offense to provide a better alternative to PJ Walker by next week, and he should be the starter when Carolina hosts Washington in Week 11.

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Rodgers, Packers get away with it easily

If you read this column last week, you weren’t surprised at the slight punishment Aaron Rodgers received.

Rodgers was docked at $ 14,650 – and only $ 14,650 – for violating COVID-19 protocols. The league ruled its violation was the Halloween party, while the team was fined $ 300,000 for all press conferences without a mask, plus the Halloween party. No suspension. No loss of draft pick. Not even $ 14,650 the number of times he broke the policy.

That’s because the league basically said “oopsies”. The NFL knew Rodgers wasn’t vaccinated, just as the Packers knew he wasn’t vaccinated. And they let him violate protocols in front of everyone, just like they allowed Kirk Cousins ​​and several other unvaccinated players.

The league could only punish Rodgers so far because he too was guilty. And it gave a stern warning that it will be a lot worse if the Packers or Rodgers keep messing up.

Going forward, Rodgers will likely be on Zoom or masked at in-person press conferences for the remainder of the season.

Choice of week 10

I beat my previous week, but barely week 9 with a slate of 8-6. This brings my season record to 89-47. Those wacky games from last week threw me away, and I’m going to have to be better this week. Of course, I took the Ravens on Thursday.

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Flux: Paramount + (Click here)

The Browns would be my choice if they had their additional running backs for this game. But they’ll be without Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, and the New England defense begins to turn into Belichick Form. I still believe in Cleveland, but not this one.

The choice : Patriots.

Sunday, 1 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Flux: Paramount + (Click here)

In recent weeks, I have bet on the Titans to be beaten by fatigue. Either the fatigue of coming out of a short week after a big win against the Bills, or the fatigue of an overtime game against a division rival, or simply roster fatigue after suffering the loss of Derrick Henry. They have won four straight games against good to big teams. It won’t stop now.

The choice : Titans

Sunday, 4:25 p.m. ET
TV: CBS | Flux: Paramount + (Click here)

Denver comes off a big surprise win last week over Dallas, and Philadelphia will surely give up a high percentage of wins at Teddy Bridgewater. But I like what the Eagles offense has started to do lately, and as long as Jalen Hurts doesn’t turn the ball around I think they have a chance. I may regret it but …

The choice : Eagles

Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS
TV: CBS | Flux: Paramount + (Click here)

A game with big returns. The return of Russell Wilson. The return of Aaron Rodgers. As a Tar Heel, I’ve known for over a decade never to bet against Russ. Same her doctor marvels to its supernatural capacity.

The choice : Seahawks

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