Could Josh McCown’s arrival mean good news for Sam Darnold?

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Josh McCown
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Josh McCown /

Could Josh McCown’s arrival as quarterbacks coach mean good news for Sam Darnold’s future with the Carolina Panthers in 2023?

Frank Reich continues to put together an outstanding coaching staff capable of getting the Carolina Panthers back to prominence. Some key appointments remain – most notably the offensive coordinator position – but the pieces are slowly coming together as the all-important free agency and 2023 NFL Draft periods get closer.

One of the biggest statements Reich made during his first interview as head coach was David Tepper’s desire to bring the best coaches possible to the franchise. And based on the owner’s vast wealth, money is not going to be a complication in any talks.

Two more respected figures joined the fold on Friday evening. Former Panthers head coach Dom Capers made an emotional return as a senior defensive assistant, with Josh McCown replacing Sean Ryan as the team’s quarterbacks coach.

Josh McCown’s arrival is good news for Sam Darnold

McCown is already being labeled as a future head coach and was rumored to be under strong consideration with little experience in 2021 before the Houston Texans went with Lovie Smith. His arrival brings intrigue and could mean good news for one signal-caller on the lookout for a new deal.

Sam Darnold was a former teammate of McCown’s on the New York Jets, so the duo is already well familiar with one another. Whether this means the Panthers offer him a short-term extension as a potential bridge option until Matt Corral or an incoming college recruit is ready to assume command under center remains to be seen.

McCown’s appointment certainly enhances his chances. The pair already have chemistry, Darnold knows the weapons already on the Panthers, and the former USC star did show growth last season despite not doing enough to clinch a chock NFC South title.

Much will depend on general manager Scott Fitterer, who has control of personnel for the first time after playing second fiddle to Matt Rhule over the last two offseasons. He’ll have his own thoughts on Darnold, but McCown could fight his corner for a one-year contract if nothing else.

In truth, fans have seen enough of Darnold, who came in following a high-profile trade from the Jets but failed to muster the necessary improvements. A fresh start all around would be the best solution, although Fitterer hasn’t ruled anything out one way or another.

Whichever way the Panthers go, they cannot afford any more suspect moves at football’s most pivotal position. Re-signing Darnold could be a sideways step, but the presence of Reich and McCown should mean further growth arrives during OTAs and training camp.

This is another layer on what’s sure to be a fascinating offseason for the Panthers. One that could determine how much progress can arrive from a results standpoint in the first season with Reich at the helm.

Darnold might never be good enough to take a team to the promised land. But that does not detract from the positive impact McCown and others could have on the player entering Year 6 of his professional career.

An extension for Darnold would receive a mixed response from fans. Even if it’s more plausible than ever thanks to McCown’s presence on Carolina’s coaching staff.

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