Sam Darnold – Carolina Panthers QB
Much like the situation with P.J. Walker, the prospects of Sam Darnold entering training camp didn’t look too promising. The Carolina Panthers traded up for Matt Corral and also secured the services of Baker Mayfield from the Cleveland Browns, which left him facing an uphill battle to remain relevant and fighting for his NFL future.
Darnold got plenty of camp reps as Matt Rhule moved forward with a quarterback competition that was deemed needless by many. When the USC product suffered a high-ankle sprain in the preseason, it wasn’t hard to see why many wrote off his chances.
Fortune favored Darnold later in the campaign when he returned to the lineup. His 2022 debut was enough for the Panthers to waive Mayfield and despite faltering in big moments down the stretch, there was far more good than bad regarding his production.
There are obvious limitations with Darnold. Something that won’t go unnoticed by any new coach or even Steve Wilks providing he’s done enough to win the job long-term.
Perhaps Darnold could return as a bridge option and mentor Corral or any new recruit from the college ranks. But would a high-profile coaching hire want to bet their immediate success on the No. 3 overall selection in 2018?
The answer to that is probably not. So don’t be surprised if Darnold’s less-than-stellar outing against the New Orleans Saints in Week 18 ends up being his final one in Carolina.