XFL quarterback P.J. Walker signs with the Carolina Panthers

  • 2020 NFL Free Agency
  • carolina panthers
  • XFL
By Jereme Jones March 23, 2020 0 Comment
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P.J. Walker, the standout quarterback of the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks, is returning to the NFL after signing with the Carolina Panthers.

P.J. Walker was the biggest star in the first season of the XFL. Now, he is the first XFL player to sign with an NFL team. Walker agreed to a deal with the Carolina Panthers on Monday, the first day XFL players were eligible to sign with NFL teams. The team has yet to release the terms of the deal.

Walker is 5’11” 215 pounds and 25 years old. He was the face of the XFL this season and the league’s leading MVP candidate at the time of the shutdown. In five games with the Houston Roughnecks, Walker was 119 of 184 for 1,338 yards with 15 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. He has been called the Patrick Mahomes of the XFL because of the way he plays the position. Walker is a mobile quarterback who can escape pressure, throw on the run, and is very good at throwing off-platform.

Carolina may have had an advantage in signing Walker due to his familiarity with the Panthers’ new head coach Matt Rhule. Walker was in Rhule’s first signing class as head coach at Temple. He went on to be a four-year starter at Temple, taking over the starting position midway through his freshman year. In his four years, he threw for 10,668 yards and 74 touchdowns. He left Temple as the school’s all-time passing leader. Rhule and Walker led the Owls to two bowl games and two American Conference Championship games; winning the 2016 American Conference Championship.

Walker went undrafted in 2017 but signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent. He spent 2017 and 2018 on the Colts’ practice squad. He has yet to appear in an NFL game. However, he did enough in Indianapolis to impress Andrew Luck. Luck suggested to his father, XFL commissioner Oliver Luck, that the league sign Walker.

Walker almost signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2019 season, but the move was blocked by the XFL. Most believe the Steelers wanted to use him as a scout team player, to prepare them for Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson, more than an actual quarterback option for Pittsburgh.

Walker heads to a Carolina team that is overhauling their quarterback position. Long-time starter, and franchise cornerstone, Cam Newton has been allowed to seek a trade.  The Panthers signed free agent Teddy Bridgewater to a 3-year, $63 million contract last week to be the team’s new starter. Walker will look to compete against Kyle Allen and Will Grier for the back-up position.

Allen started 12 games for the Panthers last season due to Cam Newton’s injury. He completed 62% of his passes, throwing for 3,322 yards with 17 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. The Panthers re-signed Allen to a one-year deal this off-season for $585,000. Grier, a third-round pick last year out of West Virginia, started two games for Carolina in 2019. In those games, he was 28 of 52 for 228 yards, throwing 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Walker will have every chance to win a roster spot with his talent and his relationship with Rhule. But, his XFL rights remain with Houston. So, if he would fail to make the Panthers, he would return to the Roughnecks for 2021. But, anyone who saw Walker play in the XFL would put their money on him being the back-up in Carolina this season.

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