Sam Darnold traded in bold Carolina Panthers prediction before Week 1
By Dean Jones
Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold faces an uncertain future, with one writer projecting the former first-round pick to be traded before Week 1.
Although Sam Darnold is willing to fight with everything he’s got for another shot with the Carolina Panthers in 2022, the notion appears unlikely. His disastrous form last season following his arrival via trade from the New York Jets saw those in power bring in two extra signal-callers that could both surge above him on the depth chart by the time training camp comes to a conclusion.
Darnold is a rich man regardless after the Panthers picked up his fifth-year option with a fully guaranteed $18.85 million attached. Had the primary decision-makers adopted a wait-and-see approach, then the No. 3 overall selection in 2018 might have been shown the door this offseason.
Carolina’s current regime loves making things difficult for themselves at the most important position in football.
It all started with Cam Newton’s release and also saw the organization end the Teddy Bridgewater experiment ended after just one season. But it didn’t stop the Panthers from making another daring move with the acquisition of Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns.
Mayfield has a competitive edge that could light a new fire under Carolina’s offense. Just where this leaves Darnold is unclear, but it would be a big surprise if he ever took the field in a competitive setting again.
Carolina Panthers predicted to trade Sam Darnold by Week 1
Even though there has been no trade interest in Darnold according to general manager Scott Fitterer, FanSided’s respected writer Russell Baxter projected that the USC product would move franchises when giving one bold prediction for every NFL team before Week 1.
Baxter cited the increased competition in a crowded quarterback room as the reason behind the prediction, which could leave Darnold on the outside looking in unless major improvements are made within new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system.
"“Imagine having the first and third overall picks in the same draft class and both are quarterbacks. That’s the situation in Charlotte. The franchise has won exactly 15 games over the past three seasons combined. And if you think having two members from the quarterback Class of 2018 is intriguing, Carolina used a third-round pick in April on Ole Miss’ signal-caller Matt Corral. Seems like a pretty crowded quarterback room.”"
Trading Darnold seems like the right move.
It’s whether another team makes a call that appears to be the complication.
The Panthers gave him the benefit of the doubt in 2021, sacrificing three draft picks to secure his services. Other teams won’t be giving anything like that up and Carolina will likely have to eat a huge portion of his contract to get any potential deal over the line.
Carolina has been keen to keep Darnold in their plans in the hope another organization inquires if they feel more depth is required or injury hits in camp. However, keeping him around would be a distraction and could even hinder Matt Corral’s development for good measure.
For all Darnold’s faults on the field, he’s conducted himself well away from the gridiron this offseason. He knows that performances weren’t good enough, that the NFL is a business, and he has it all to do after failing to deliver throughout his first four years in the league.
While Darnold should be commended for this attitude, the film is all that matters. Something that leaves his NFL future hanging by a thread.