How much pressure is on Panthers QB Sam Darnold in 2021?

Dean Jones
(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

It’s not just Sam Darnold under pressure

Sam Darnold’s production under center for the Carolina Panthers in 2021 will have some huge ramifications. Not only for the quarterback but also for the coaches and front office personnel who decided to bring him on board.

As stated previously, head coach Matt Rhule hitched his wagon to Teddy Bridgewater last season only for it to blow up in his face. Instead of using their top-10 draft selection on someone like Justin Fields, they decided to go with a 23-year-old with three years of NFL experience that in all honesty, could go either way in terms of progress or regression.

That is a big gamble.

But it’s probably an indication of Rhule’s job security after signing a seven-year, $60 million deal to prise him from the college ranks last year.

That being said, if Darnold does not meet targets then it’s going to reflect badly on those that made the trade to acquire him. Everything is in position for the player to succeed in Carolina. But the fact is there is simply no telling what his time at MetLife Stadium has done to his confidence until we see him on the field.

The Panthers have an exciting young roster that could make some real noise next season. However, they will only go as far as Darnold takes them and if the organization is looking for another signal-caller next spring, it won’t sit well with the team’s fanbase or owner David Tepper.

It’s pretty evident that Tepper wanted to do everything in Carolina’s power to land Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans.

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This is something they might go back to if the former Clemson star’s legal situation resolves in a satisfactory manner. But, at least for now, Darnold is their guy and it might end up being a steal if he can finally start utilizing his undoubted skill set.