4 best and worst-case scenarios for Panthers QB Sam Darnold in 2021

(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

What are some potential best and worst-case scenarios for Sam Darnold during his first season under center with the Carolina Panthers in 2021?

The Carolina Panthers have firmly put their marker down regarding Sam Darnold. Their new quarterback arrived via trade from the New York Jets this offseason and the team’s decision not to draft a signal-caller – namely Justin Fields – at No. 8 overall was the biggest vote of confidence in the former USC star’s potential to turn around his fortunes.

Whether Darnold can do this or not is up for debate. His time at MetLife Stadium was a torrid one, to put it mildly. However, the Panthers are banking the No. 3 overall selection in 2018’s failure in New York was down to the environment and not the talent at his disposal.

Everything is in place for Darnold to shine in Carolina. He has a loaded passing attack, an All-Pro running back alongside him in Christian McCaffrey, and two progressive young coaches guiding him in Matt Rhule and Joe Brady.

This is probably going to be the last chance saloon for Darnold, who got his fifth-year option picked up by the Panthers following the draft. The team is now tied to him for two seasons, but they will not hesitate to go in a different direction if things aren’t playing out as expected.

With this in mind, here are four best and worst-case scenarios where Darnold is concerned in 2021.