Will the Carolina Panthers regret passing on QB Justin Fields?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Justin Fields
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Justin Fields /
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Carolina Panthers
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) A fan and Roger Goodell hold a Justin Fields jersey /

Will the Carolina Panthers eventually regret their decision to pass up the chance to select quarterback Justin Fields in the 2021 NFL Draft?

The acquisition of Sam Darnold had a feel of settlement about it where the Carolina Panthers are concerned. Their attempts to land Matthew Stafford and Deshaun Watson via trade this offseason came up short before the organization eventually struck a deal with the New York Jets that cost them three draft selections over the next two years.

Despite getting the former No. 3 overall selection on board, there were more than a few fans and analysts who expected them to select Justin Fields at No. 8 if he was available. This proved to be the case after the San Francisco 49ers took Trey Lance, but the Panthers resisted the temptation of taking the former Ohio State star in favor of cornerback Jaycee Horn.

This was met by derision from large sections of the team’s fanbase on social media who felt Fields should have been their guy considering Darnold’s lack of production over his three-year career so far.

It’s a valid argument. But as head coach Matt Rhule said in his media availability following the pick, they brought Darnold in for a reason and adding Fields – although tempting – would have been a significant vote of no confidence in their decision.

Whether this comes off or not is up for debate at this juncture. Darnold needs to prove he was a product of his environment in New York and the Panthers have put him in a strong position to hit the ground running with the weapons available.

As for Fields, he dropped all the way to No. 11 before the Chicago Bears made a bold move up the order to secure his services moving forward. But will the Panthers regret passing on the opportunity?