4 scenarios if the Panthers hadn’t picked up Sam Darnold’s 5th-year option

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

Sam Darnold’s situation

First, let’s take a look at Sam Darnold’s situation.

The former first-round pick out of USC was seen as a reclamation project by the Carolina Panthers. A player that simply needed to get out of the New York Jets to truly make a real go of things at the next level.

It cost the Panthers three draft picks – including what turned out to be the No. 38 overall selection in 2022 – to get Darnold on board. The early signs were encouraging, but once Christian McCaffrey fell foul to the injury bug once again, things unraveled pretty quickly.

Darnold’s footwork, processing, and decision-making flaws were there for all to see. So if the Panthers hadn’t picked up his fifth-year option, then there is a high chance that the signal-caller would have been cut loose entirely.

Much has been made about Darnold’s age, which is still relatively young for an NFL quarterback. But the same problems keep creeping up and unless something dramatic occurs between now and Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns, it’s likely to remain that way.

No doubt another team would have picked up Darnold on the cheap as a potential backup. A far cry from what was expected when he arrived in the NFL as the No. 3 overall selection.

With no trade interest in the player, the Panthers are stuck with him for now. Yet another rash move under center that’s ended up costing the organization in a big way.