Grading the Carolina Panthers trading for Sam Darnold

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Sam Darnold

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold

The Carolina Panthers traded for what may be their quarterback of the future in Sam Darnold, but just how good of a deal was it for new general manager Scott Fitterer?

The quarterback saga of the 2021 offseason just got a whole lot more interesting for the Carolina Panthers. Everyone knew the team would make a move, but maybe not this one.

In a time of uncertainty and teams moving up in the draft, the Panthers decided to stay put and trade for a veteran starter in Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. While opinions are sure to be varied and strong on this trade, let’s take a closer look.

How has Sam Darnold’s career gone so far?

Darnold was drafted at No. 3 in 2018 by the Jets and immediately put into the starting role, which can go any number of ways, most of them being bad. However, the rookie showed promise, passing for almost 200 yards and leading his team to a 48-17 trouncing of the Detroit Lions.

Things became somewhat of a mixed bag for the rest of the season with blowout losses, close wins against some good competition, and a heartbreaker in overtime against the Green Bay Packers in which Darnold had 341 passing yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and never got the chance to win his team the game.

With that said, Darnold had his share of rookie struggles.

Namely throwing four interceptions against the Miami Dolphins in a game the Jets still had a chance to win. Ending his rookie season with 17 touchdowns to 15 interceptions.

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The Jets then hired Adam Gase as their new head coach and the early on-field indications were good, with the team improving to 7-6 in Year 1. Darnold also showed improvement, with the exception of two stinkers against the New England Patriots and Jacksonville Jaguars, having more touchdowns than interceptions in almost every game that season.

That second year Included an absolute gem against the then Oakland Raiders where the quarterback threw for over 300 yards on a 69 percent completion rate. Consistently finding the open man and throwing an accurate, catchable ball.

Even in that terrible game against the Patriots, the four interceptions were a result of free rushers constantly being in the young quarterback’s face. A situation even the best of passers would struggle to be successful in.

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