Alaina Getzenberg: Sam Darnold trade could leave Panthers without a QB answer for another year

Alaina Getzenberg, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Football

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four months ago, almost to the day, Sam Darnold sat in front of the New York media (virtually) and spoke about his uncertain future with the Jets.

The very next day, much further south, a former Jets quarterback deflected similar questions about his future.

Now that former Jets signal caller — Teddy Bridgewater — and Darnold are on the same roster, at least for now. In need of another answer, any other answer, at quarterback, the Carolina Panthers have turned to Darnold, the 23-year old former third-overall pick who was unable to find success in his three seasons with the Jets.

How Darnold performs in Carolina will call into focus many things, including the talent scouting ability of general manager Scott Fitterer, who has had an eye on Darnold since he was coming out of USC. Darnold's level of success will also showcase offensive coordinator Joe Brady and head coach Matt Rhule's abilities to work with a struggling quarterback coming off his worst season.

The bottom line: Trading a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second- and fourth-round picks for Darnold doesn't answer long-term questions for the Panthers. In fact, more questions than answers emerge.

If it doesn't work out for Carolina — again — this team will not be in much different place than it was this past offseason. And the offseason before that. If it does work, it could become a steal and give the team something to build around.


Quarterback question mark

The Panthers should have known what they were getting in Bridgewater a year ago. His play wasn't that different from his previous seasons in the NFL. The Panthers certainly know what he offers now, and felt that Darnold offered more. A higher upside, certainly.

Darnold is a question mark. He could still be a good quarterback, but has yet to show it in the NFL. Perhaps a change of scenery will do him good.

If he plays well, the deal could turn into a steal, but the possibility remains that we will be here again next year. The Panthers will pick up Darnold's fifth-year option for $18.9 million in 2022, per league sources, which will put him under contract for the next two seasons.


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