4 veterans the Carolina Panthers were right to move on from in 2023
By Dean Jones
Sam Darnold - Former Carolina Panthers QB
Despite some improved production from quarterback Sam Darnold when the Carolina Panthers gave him one last chance to impress last season, he failed to produce with a potential division title at stake. With a new regime coming into the fold and general manager Scott Fitterer having the final say on personnel, all signs pointed to his departure in free agency.
The Panthers desperately needed a long-term plan under center. Something they managed to attain following an aggressive trade with the Chicago Bears that landed the No. 1 overall selection.
Andy Dalton joining the Panthers as a mentor for their new rookie quarterback sealed Darnold's fate. The former USC star wasn't out of work for long, signing a one-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers to reunite with long-time friend and ex-teammate Christian McCaffrey.
Depending on the health of Trey Lance and Brock Purdy, there's a chance Darnold could see some playing time early in the season. If not, the Niners have a dependable presence that could produce solid numbers in the well-insulated, run-heavy scheme implemented by Kyle Shanahan.
For all the errors under center made by Matt Rhule, trading for Darnold was the one move that caused his demise above all else. But in terms of fit, the No. 3 overall selection in 2018 couldn't have picked a better one to galvanize his career.