In what has been a whirlwind of an offseason surrounding the quarterback position, and the craziness only continued following the New York Jets’ trade of former No. 3 overall selection Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers on Monday. In return, New York received a 2021 sixth-round selection, and 2022 second- and fourth-round picks, per Adam Schefter.
Thus far into his career, Darnold has failed to live up to expectations, recording just 13 wins in 38 career starts for the Jets. Now, both sides get a fresh start, with Carolina moving forward with Darnold—relegating Teddy Bridgewater to second string, for now—and the Jets presumably prepared to select BYU gun-slinger Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall.
With underlying criticism and questions surrounding many of the deals involving signal-callers so far this offseason, this deal looks different. For two franchises near the bottom of the league in nearly every category on both sides of the ball, a breath of fresh air for Darnold now awaits in Carolina where he joins second-year head coach Matt Rhule and offensive wonderboy Joe Brady.
“[Sam] is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said following the trade.
The second quarterback taken off the board in the 2018 draft behind Cleveland’s Baker Mayfield, Darnold’s talent as a passer was thrown under the rug by overshadowing roster issues outside of his control. The Jets lacked talent on the offensive line, in the backfield, and out wide; not a great formula for success to build upon with your face of the franchise under center. Pull the microscope back and the former USC Trojan has all the necessary traits to succeed—and thrive—at the NFL level.
Darnold now makes his way to Carolina, where Brady’s high-flying, unique offense awaits. Curtis Samuel’s departure will hurt, but Carolina has all the makings of one of the NFC’s top offenses headlined by a healthy Christian McCaffrey. Vertical concepts, RPOs, running back option routes out of the backfield, Brady does it all in his offense, and Carolina believes he has all the makings to return Carolina back to the top of the NFC South with a division now for the taking in 2021 and beyond following Drew Brees’ retirement.
This could be Darnold’s last chance to prove he belongs, and Carolina has jumped headfirst into the biggest risk or reward move thus far of the wild 2021 offseason. Buckle up, it’s only April.