3 big losers from the Carolina Panthers trade to No. 1 overall in 2023

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Corral
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Corral /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold – Former Carolina Panthers QB

After enjoying a mini-career renaissance when installed into the starting lineup last season, Sam Darnold‘s prospects look better than ever before. However, faltering when the Carolina Panthers needed him most was probably the final straw for a franchise that risked bringing him in via trade from the New York Jets.

Darnold was probably hoping for one more go-around with an improved coaching staff. He might get that on a short-term deal depending on what transpires in free agency, but the Panthers made their move to No. 1 overall, leaving his long-term aspirations in tatters.

This is just business. Darnold might have progressed after being well-insulated behind a stout offensive line and power running attack in 2022, but his overall career production indicates he’ll never be able to reach the heights expected of a No. 3 overall selection.

What the future holds for Darnold is unclear. As stated previously, the Panthers could offer him a team-friendly deal for 2023, but they didn’t make this move for a rookie quarterback to sit on the sidelines, so the one-time USC stud might opt to take his chances elsewhere for the promise of more involvement.

Darnold’s acquisition will go down as one of the worst trades in franchise history. A gamble that eventually cost Matt Rhule his job and left general manager Scott Fitterer with no option other than to do something drastic.