5 Carolina Panthers players on the hot seat heading into 2021 season

(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) Cam Erving
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) Cam Erving /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

After three years of abject failure on the New York Jets for multiple reasons, we should finally see what Sam Darnold can do with some talent around him in 2021. The quarterback has a golden opportunity awaiting him on the Carolina Panthers after an offseason trade, which should be his final chance of emerging as a productive starter at the next level.

Darnold left a good impression throughout training camp and in his time on the field during Carolina’s preseason finale against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Taking this into a competitive environment is absolutely crucial for the No. 3 overall selection in 2018.

Providing the offensive line provides Darnold with enough time in the pocket, failure is simply not an option. The skills and arm strength are obviously present, but there need to be some real improvements when it comes to decision making and footwork in tight spaces to give the signal-caller a fighting chance.

He couldn’t ask for more weapons. That’s not going to be a problem unless injury strikes.

It’s whether or not Darnold can come through in the clutch and completely reinvigorate his career that’ll be the biggest stumbling block.

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All the trade chatter surrounding Deshaun Watson and the impending free agency or Aaron Rodgers will loom large over Darnold in 2021. The only way he can quash this speculation is by putting up lofty numbers and leading the Panthers to a winning record or better in the coming months.