4 Panthers that can earn new deals over final 5 games in 2022

(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Jeremy Chinn
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Jeremy Chinn /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

Offering Sam Darnold a contract extension seemed laughable once upon a time. However, a scenario could emerge where the Carolina Panthers opt to keep the quarterback around, in the short-term at least.

Darnold’s first season in Carolina was an unmitigated disaster. His production became erratic almost from the moment running back Christian McCaffrey went out of the lineup and it appeared there was no future remaining for the player after the Panthers drafted Matt Corral and traded for Baker Mayfield.

An off-season ankle complication was another nail in the coffin. But instead of accepting his fate, Darnold’s worked hard to get back and capitalized on another starting chance in fine style against the Denver Broncos in Week 12.

There was nothing overly spectacular about Darnold’s play. He was efficient, took suitable risks, and commanded the line of scrimmage superbly, which is all the Panthers needed behind a strong running game and an exceptional defensive performance.

This was enough for Mayfield’s early release to be granted and Steve Wilks to start Darnold again at the Seattle Seahawks and potentially beyond. If the former USC standout performs as he did during his first start and Carolina gets more wins in the column, then signing him to a short-term deal until Corral or a college prospect get up to speed is entirely plausible.