Three years ago, the New York Jets drafted Sam Darnold with hopes of making him the franchise’s quarterback. The USC product led the Trojans to back-to-back 10 win seasons, including a 2017 Rose Bowl win over Penn State.
This led to Darnold earning the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Now, he has a new home. After a tumultuous tenure in the Big Apple, Darnold was traded to the Carolina Panthers April 5 for a sixth-round pick in 2021 and a second and fourth round pick in 2022.
The Jets maintain the No. 2 pick in NFL Draft, beginning April 29, and are widely expected to try their hand at another franchise quarterback. Gang Green has been most linked to BYU quarterback Zach Wilson. Clemson quarterback and National Championship winner Trevor Lawrence expects to go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Carolina Quarterback Situation
Meanwhile, Darnold joins a Carolina quarterback room with Teddy Bridgewater, who started 15 games last season for the Panthers. Bridgewater concluded with nearly 4,000 yards on 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Darnold said he’s excited to play in a Panthers offense that includes star running back Christian McCaffrey.
The Panthers have yet to announce who their starter will be. In fact, reports surfaced that Carolina has expressed interest in drafting a quarterback with the eighth overall pick. Furthermore, speculation includes Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields potentially going to Carolina.
Panthers OC Joe Brady and QBs coach Sean Ryan are in Columbus for Ohio State QB Justin Fields’ second pro day, I’m told. Carolina had Matt Rhule, Scott Fitterer and Pat Stewart at Fields’ first pro day.
So that’s another team with 2 sets of high-end guys having seen Fields live.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) April 14, 2021
Time in New York
In 2020, Darnold had his worst season in the pros. He started 12 games for the Jets and threw just over 2,000 yards with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The Jets finished 2-14, their worst season in over 20 years. New York failed to finish with a winning record in Darnold’s three seasons.
The Jets (and his best season) came in 2019. New York ended 7-9 and Darnold threw 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. However, even in that season, the Jets started 1-7 before going on a late-season, meaningless, run.
Darnold expressed disappointment that he was unable to become New York’s franchise quarterback.
Darnold spent much of last season knowing that he was not the long-term answer in New York. After the Jets poor 0-13 start, many began to expect New York would pick a franchise quarterback with the high draft pick it was going to receive. There was hope that Darnold would stay on after the Jets hired San Francisco Defensive Coordinator Robert Salah in January as their next head coach.
Darnold was engrained in trade rumors throughout the offseason, which he said were tough and unsettling.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule said the squad told Bridgewater he can look for a new team. Ultimately, it is unknown if Darnold will be Carolina’s starter come September. Nonetheless, he is excited for a fresh start with a new team.