One of the stars of the XFL has reportedly landed an NFL contract, and it’s with his college coach.
According to ESPN and NFL Network, quarterback P.J. Walker has agreed to a contract with the Carolina Panthers. Walker, who attracted the attention of NFL scouts with his stellar play for the Houston Roughnecks, will reunite with Matt Rhule in Carolina.
Rhule, the new Panthers head coach, coached Walker at Temple from 2013-16. With Rhule leading the program and Walker at quarterback, the Owls won 10 games in both 2015 and 2016, marking two of the best seasons in program history.
Walker, a four-year starter and one of the best players in Temple history, threw for 10,668 yards and 74 touchdowns for Rhule while also rushing for 771 yards and nine scores over that span. Walker left Temple as the program’s all-time leader in pass attempts, completions, passing yards, touchdown passes and total offense.
Walker spent time with Colts before XFL
While Rhule left Temple for Baylor, Walker landed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent. He spent parts of three seasons on the Colts’ practice squad, but never cracked the team’s active roster. That led the 5-foot-11 Walker to an opportunity in the XFL, where he flourished.
In five games before the XFL was forced to cancel its season because of the coronavirus pandemic, Walker led the league in passing yards (1,338) and touchdowns (15) and helped the Roughnecks to a 5-0 start.
Walker, 25, now is the first XFL player to land an NFL contract since the league’s inaugural season met its end.
Panthers’ QB room in transition
With the Panthers, Walker joins a quarterback room in transition. The franchise announced last week that it had given former MVP Cam Newton “permission to seek a trade.” Newton, who said he never asked to be traded and was being “forced” to leave by the Panthers, missed most of the 2019 season due to injury.
With Newton out of the picture, the Panthers are reportedly bringing in Teddy Bridgewater on a three-year deal to be the team’s new starting quarterback. Bridgewater, the former Minnesota Vikings starter, spent the last two seasons as the backup to Drew Brees with the New Orleans Saints.
In addition to Bridgewater and Walker, the Panthers also have Will Grier on the roster. Grier, a 2019 third-round pick out of West Virginia, started the final two games of the 2019 season and went 0-2.
Kyle Allen, who started 12 games after Newton re-injured his foot, was reportedly traded to Washington for a fifth-round pick later Monday. Allen won his first four starts before struggling late in the year, losing seven of his final eight games. In Washington, Allen will rejoin Ron Rivera, his coach in Carolina the last two seasons. Rivera was fired after the 2019 season but quickly landed on his feet with the Redskins.
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