By Patrick Magoon
For the first time since his rookie season (2011), Cam Newton will be working alongside a new backup quarterback. The Carolina Panthers chose not to offer veteran quarterback Derek Anderson a contract extension which means, they will go younger with either Garrett Gilbert, Taylor Heinicke or undrafted free agent Kyle Allen.
Currently, Gilbert has the best shot at landing the No. 2 quarterback position. Head coach Ron Rivera has said that Gilbert and Heinicke have the skill set that the team is looking for. “They’re both smart guys with good arms, make good decisions,” said Rivera via The Charlotte Observer.
Here, I have profiled the three-way battle for the spot behind Cam Newton on the roster.
College experience (4 years): He played for the Texas Longhorns for two seasons and then transferred to SMU.
NFL experience (3 years): The Los Angeles Rams drafted Gilbert in 2014 (214th overall). Since then, he has traveled around the NFL as a practice squad quarterback for the Patriots, Lions, Raiders, and now, the Carolina Panthers.
Family background: His dad, Gale Gilbert, played in the NFL for eight years with Seattle, Buffalo, San Diego. Gale is the only player in NFL history to play on five back-to-back Super Bowl teams, none of which were victorious.
Extra information: Garrett has one brother, Griffin, who played football at Texas Christian University. He has a Super Bowl ring that he got from joining the Patriots practice squad in 2014.
College experience (4 years): Heinicke earned a scholarship to play for the Old Dominion Monarchs football organization from 2011 to 2014. He joined the team in 2011 as a starter and led his team to a 10–3 record in the Colonial Athletic Association, but lost in the second round of the FCS playoffs. Heinicke threw for a total of 14,959 yards and recorded 132 touchdowns and 39 intercepts during his time at Old Dominion.
NFL experience (3 years): Heinicke entered the league undrafted in 2015, but signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an unrestricted free agent. After the Vikings released him, he spent time on the New England Patriots practice and Houston Texans practice squad before he was claimed off waivers by the Carolina Panthers on April 16, 2018.
Extra information: Heinicke earned four awards in 2012: CAA Offensive Player of the Year, Walter Payton Award, Dudley Award, and FCS All-American. He made an appeared on the reality TV show The Ride which highlights high school quarterbacks battling for a slot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
College experience (3 years): Allen played for the Texas A&M Aggies football team for two years (2014-15) before transferring to the Houston Cougars football team. He was not eligible to play for the Cougars in 2016 because the NCAA requires transfers to sit out one full season. In 2017, Allen started his first game; however, three games into the season, he was benched in favor of Kyle Postma after he threw four interceptions in three games. Allen decided to abandon his senior season and take a shot at getting drafted in the 2018 draft.
NFL experience (0): Allen has no experience playing in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers signed him as an undrafted free agent on April 28, 2018.
Strengths: The main reason he was the top recruit coming out of high school: his arm strength. In college, Allen connected with his receivers on several accurate deep passes down the field. His arm strength allows him to make accurate throws when pushed out of the pocket by defenders. Allen takes the time to thoroughly scan the field for an open target before panicking and throwing the ball away or running. He isn’t the fastest quarterback by any means, but he can gain enough extra yards when he needs to.
Extra information: He played for the West team in the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Allen was a five-star recruit by Rivals.com.