4 Carolina Panthers players fighting for roster spots in 2022 finale

(Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports) Raheem Blackshear
(Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports) Raheem Blackshear /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB

For once in Sam Darnold‘s career, a multiple-turnover game in Week 17 at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers deserved some context. While his interception throw was ill-advised, one could make a strong case for the two fumbles not being his fault – even if they played a leading role in the Carolina Panthers’ late collapse with everything at stake.

Darnold threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns, which was encouraging. Some of his throws were nothing short of jaw-dropping, but there were others that could have resulted in more giveaways if things were different.

Sunday’s game at the New Orleans Saints represents Darnold’s final opportunity to convince influential figures within the organization he’s worth keeping around. That might not be as the team’s starter, but one couldn’t rule out the prospect of the signal-caller returning as a bridge option until a college player or Matt Corral gets up to speed.

The former USC star has shown growth since getting the starting gig once again. But while Darnold might not be the problem these days, he’s unlikely to be the solution in Carolina, either.

Darnold needs to finish with a flourish at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. This will not only put him in a good position for a short-term extension but also provide more good production for another interested party to examine before free agency begins.

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