5 major observations from Panthers QB Sam Darnold’s 2021 offseason

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

The fifth-year option changed nothing for Sam Darnold

As expected, the Carolina Panthers picked up Sam Darnold’s fifth-year option before the deadline. This gives the organization two years to see just what exactly they have in their new signal-caller and whether their decision to bring him in was the right one.

Darnold will make $18.85 million in 2022. Not exactly major money for a starting quarterback in today’s NFL.

But in a sense, picking up the extra year didn’t change the situation Darnold finds himself in. Even though it was probably a big confidence boost from the player’s perspective.

Having a coaching staff that fully believes in his capabilities will only take Darnold so far. It’s absolutely essential he repays this faith by leading the Panthers where they want to go in 2021 and possibly beyond.

A tall ask for someone who struggles so much over his three years at MetLife Stadium.

However, this lack of consistency was not all Darnold’s fault and he can pile more misery on Adam Gase by coming to life in a similar way Ryan Tannehill managed to do once he left New York for the Tennessee Titans.

The Panthers will be constantly evaluating Darnold and all the top college prospects entering the league next year. If things don’t work out, they can draft a potential franchise signal-caller and have him sit or compete with Carolina’s marquee acquisition next summer.

Only Darnold can make sure this scenario doesn’t come to fruition.