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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Carolina Panthers
(Jeff Lange/Akron Beacon Journal via IMAGN Content Services) Baker Mayfield /

Another Sam Darnold replacement?

After striking out on Deshaun Watson and a quickly shot-down inquiry regarding Russell Wilson came to nothing, the Carolina Panthers went back to the drawing board. Acquiring Matt Corral is seen as a long-term investment more than anything else, but an immense need to put together a winning season has those in power exploring all other options in pursuit of a short-term fix.

Sam Darnold’s presence on the team has hindered this considerably. Paying a backup quarterback $18.85 million is not exactly ideal, but it’s the mess they made by gambling on his skillset in the first place.

According to recent reports, the Panthers were not willing to pay anything more than $6 million of Baker Mayfield‘s $18.85 million in a potential trade. Had Darnold not been around, then this could have been avoided and would not prevent them from drafting Corral if things don’t work out with the Oklahoma product.

The same applies to Jimmy Garoppolo, who is set to count $26.95 million against the cap on the final year of his deal. His shoulder surgery is another complication, but the San Francisco 49ers would be willing dealers if the Panthers had the resources to pick up the entirety of this deal.

One of these still might happen depending on how Darnold and Corral get on during the opening stages of workouts. But there is no denying something would have happened already had they not pulled the trigger on another year for the underperforming veteran.