With his sharp play this spring in an abbreviated XFL season, former Temple quarterback P.J. Walker made a strong case that he’s ready to get on the field in the NFL. His old Owls head coach, Matt Rhule, apparently agrees.
The Carolina Panthers on Monday reached a deal with Walker, as did another former Temple player, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, according to the NFL Network. That brings the number to three of former Owls signing on with Rhule, now Carolina’s head coach. Receiver Keith Kirkwood signed last week with the Panthers.
Walker, from Elizabeth, N.J., owns every major career passing record for the Owls, including yards (10,669) and touchdown passes (74). In his junior year, Temple won the East Division of the American Athletic Conference, and as a senior in 2016, Walker led the Owls to the overall AAC championship.
The 25-year-old Walker had spent time with the Indianapolis Colts but was a breakout star this year in the XFL, playing for the Houston Roughnecks. When the season was ended by the coronavirus pandemic, the Roughnecks were 5-0 and Walker led the league in passing yards (1,338) and passing touchdowns (15), and had just four interceptions while completing 65% of his passes.
He’ll be expected to be a backup QB since the Panthers last week signed veteran Teddy Bridgewater, basically showing the door to incumbent QB Cam Newton. On Monday, the Panthers traded Kyle Allen, who started 12 games last season for Carolina after Newton was injured, to the Washington Redskins, reportedly for a fifth-round draft pick.
“I have been preparing for this throughout my career, and now I have made the most of the opportunity,'' Walker told the Inquirer’s Marc Narducci earlier this month, stating his goal was to get past an NFL practice squad, where he’d spent two seasons with the Colts before being away from the sport last fall after being released in early September.