Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB
This one takes a little more explaining.
There appeared a time on Day 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft when the Carolina Panthers were going to spurn this year’s class in favor of a veteran via trade. Talks heated up between the organization and the Cleveland Browns regarding Baker Mayfield, which would have spelled the end of Sam Darnold‘s time as the team’s starting option.
Some conflict within the war room resulted in talks stalling and the Panthers going with Matt Corral instead. This could benefit the organization long-term. but it also potentially represents another opportunity for Darnold under center next time around.
The former USC star just didn’t do enough in 2021 following his high-profile trade from the New York Jets. Carolina has some additional competition for Darnold, but it’s a massive stretch to believe Corral will be ready for the full-time gig in Week 1.
If this scenario does come to fruition, then it’s Darnold’s final chance to salvage the wreckage that’s becoming a once-promising career. Any miscues or poor performance will lead to the fanbase calling for change, which might be the last time we see the No. 3 overall selection in 2018 in a prominent role.
It’s also worth remembering that the Panthers boast the league’s most salary-cap space right now. So ruling out another bridge option that gives them a better chance to win now cannot be dismissed entirely.