An NFL analyst has made a shocking claim surrounding Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold’s trade value entering Week 3 of the 2022 season.
Sam Darnold is expected back at practice in the not-too-distant future, which is great news for the quarterback given how serious his ankle injury looked against the Buffalo Bills in preseason Week 3. The Carolina Panthers are moving forward with Baker Mayfield as their starter, but there will be an obvious temptation for head coach Matt Rhule to throw the USC product into the fire if things don’t improve over a brutal run of fixtures.
This would be one last gamble to save his job. But in all honesty, Darnold‘s production last season following his trade from the New York Jets is enough to state convincingly he shouldn’t be given this responsibility in Carolina again.
There was little in the way of trade interest surrounding Darnold this offseason. Teams were reluctant to part ways with draft capital for such an inconsistent performer and his whopping $18.89 million salary cap hit also represented a huge stumbling block.
Carolina Panthers could get renewed interest in a Sam Darnold trade
However, one analyst claims that there could be renewed interest in Darnold just a few short weeks into the campaign.
Kristopher Knox of The Bleacher Report put Darnold at No. 3 on his trade block rankings, stating that the former first-round pick was the most enticing quarterback on the market now that Jimmy Garoppolo is the San Francisco 49ers’ first choice after a devastating injury to Trey Lance.
Knox listed the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco as potential destinations, with further interest dependent on whether another injury is suffered to a starter elsewhere.
"“If a team needs a spot starter, Darnold can at least fill in, and the Panthers should be more than willing to move him. This is Mayfield’s team at least for the 2022 season, and Carolina should be happy to get a team to take on any of Darnold’s $18.9 million guaranteed salary. Dallas and San Francisco are Darnold’s most logical landing spots right now by default. However, his trade value could skyrocket if another starting quarterback gets injured.”"
Whether this is something that would entice the Panthers is debatable. Rhule seemed pleased with Darnold’s performance levels in camp and at least from a backup standpoint, he represents a more viable alternative than P.J. Walker at this juncture.
Carolina has enough cap flexibility to take on a large portion of Darnold’s guaranteed money. They could also do with additional draft assets in 2023 following their flurry of trade activity since general manager Scott Fitterer took charge.
Much of this depends on how Darnold comes back from injury. If it’s evident he needs a little time from a fitness standpoint, then other teams will cast their eyes elsewhere if this is something they initially pursue.
The Panthers won’t get anything like the second, fourth, and sixth-round selections they gave up to acquire Darnold. A deal that will go down among the worst in franchise history beyond doubt.
Rhule would find it difficult getting rid of the guy recommended to him by Phil Snow – a defensive-minded coach who thought he could provide the spark when watching some tape. But at the end of the day, Carolina should not stand in the player’s way if there is a fresh start available somewhere.