4 remaining riddles the Carolina Panthers must solve ahead of 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

What are the Carolina Panthers going to do with Sam Darnold?

Trading for Baker Mayfield was almost inevitable after the Carolina Panthers showed significant interest in the player over a prolonged period of time. This hopefully ends their search for an upgrade on Sam Darnold and undeniably provides the team with a better chance to win in 2022 based on previous performance levels.

Mayfield has an edge that could inspire those around him. But this trade also leaves the Panthers with an expensive predicament where Darnold is concerned.

Carolina shelled out three draft picks to acquire Darnold from the New York Jets last season. A questionable move at the time, but picking up his fifth-year option before he’d even participated in one practice was even worse.

This leaves the Panthers with an $18.85 million bill for Darnold next season. With little in the way of trade interest surrounding the USC product, it’s no wonder those in power are preaching there will be a true quarterback competition in training camp.

Having Darnold around by Week 1 is a complication the Panthers don’t need. But even if a team was interested in the No. 3 overall selection in 2018, they know Carolina might have to release him when it’s all said and done.

Whether the Panthers and Darnold can come to an agreement about how the dead-cap is split remains to be seen. But this situation cannot overlap with the new campaign.