The New York Jets traded quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers Monday, giving the 23 year-old signal-caller a fresh start in his up-and-down NFL career.
The Panthers will send a 2021 sixth-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick and a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Jets. The former No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft will now try to resurrect his career with the Panthers.
Darnold was a highly-touted prospect out of USC in 2018. He was 20-4 as the signal caller for the Trojans and led USC to a 31-28 Pac-12 Championship victory over then-ranked No. 14 Stanford in 2017. He was also the first quarterback in USC history to throw for more than 4,000 yards. Given his collegiate success, he was widely projected to be the savior for the New York Jets.
Darnold finished the 2020 season with a 59.6% completion rate, 2,208 passing yards, nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Fans did see some flashes of good play throughout the season, but Darnold missed time with a shoulder injury, played 12 games and went 2-10 in 2020. As a Jet, he is 13-25.
The Jets won two games this year and fired their entire coaching staff during the offseason. Their poor record gives them the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Darnold’s future in New York remained in flux, especially given that the new staff and general manager Joe Douglas all flew to BYU’s Pro Day to watch quarterback prospect Zach Wilson.
While Darnold’s career with Jets may have failed to live up to expectations, the Jets had one of the worst-ranked offensive units around him. Now, Darnold will have a more prolific arsenal to throw to and more as the Panthers have the 8th overall pick. He’ll reunite with receiver Robby Anderson and play with running back Christian McCaffrey and receiver DJ Moore. Additionally, Darnold’s age is a major upside, as he is one of the youngest starting quarterbacks in the league.
The Panthers have also picked up Darnold’s fifth-year option which will cost them $18.8 million fully guaranteed. They seem fully committed to Darnold.
The Panthers have already welcomed Darnold to their franchise on Twitter. They sure hope that they will get the USC version of Sam Darnold, and not the Jets version.