CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Cam Newton spoke to the media Friday for the first time since returning to the Carolina Panthers.
Newton signed a one-year, $10 million deal Thursday to come back to the team that drafted him first overall in 2011.
"It was a no-brainer," Newton said.
"Honestly, I feel like I'm still floating. It's not about me, it's about being an additional piece to this team," he continued.
Newton won NFL MVP in 2015 and led the Panthers to a Super Bowl appearance that season. He struggled to stay healthy in the years that followed. The team released him after the 2019 season.
Newton played for the Patriots last season. The team released him before this season started, making Newton a free agent.
The Panthers found themselves needing a quarterback when starter Sam Darnold injured his shoulder in last week's game against the New England Patriots. The team announced today it was placing Darnold on Injured Reserve. He is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.
Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said he reached out to Newton Monday night after learning the extent of Darnold's injury. He believes the former MVP still has tons of good football in him.
"A healthy Cam Newton is a special player," Rhule said.
Newton said he was surprised to see Rhule pop up on his caller ID. He thought it was a prank call.
"I see Matthew Rhule...missed call," Newton said. "What in the world?"
"We had an unbelievable conversation. It was just exhilarating just to hear his voice," he continued.
When it comes to any bad blood from the past, Newton said, "it's irrelevant." He said he's focused on the present and helping the Panthers win football games.
"All my energy is focused on making this team better," Newton said.
Fans react to signing
Social media blew up with reaction from fans and players after the news broke. We spoke with many people excited to see Cam back in black and blue, including a former Panthers player.
"To get this opportunity to come back home and maybe the right the ship," Ricky Proehl, who played for the Panthers from 2003-2005, said. "Maybe they didn't leave on good terms. For him to have an opportunity to come back and kind of add a spark that this football team needs right now, I think could be huge for him and the organization."
Many Panther fans are happy to have him back. Check out this fan's emotional reaction caught on his home security camera!
Other fans said the news shocked them.
"I wasn't expecting this to happen," Gregory Good Jr. said. "Not once in a million years, I would've thought that Cam Newton would come back to play."
Good Jr. said the move gives him hope for the rest of year with the team still in the playoff hunt.
"Right before we crash-landed, we got Cam, so hopefully, he can turn it around for us," Good Jr. said.
Newton wrapped the news conference with a familiar message for fans.
"Keep pounding," Newton said before walking off.