The Carolina Panthers have traded a 2021 sixth-round pick, and a 2022 second and fourth-round pick for the New York Jets 2018 first round pick quarterback Sam Darnold. The Panthers have been in the market for a franchise quarterback since before they signed Teddy Bridgewater last season, but nothing came to fruition.
Sam Darnold wasn’t their first choice, as they were very much in on Matthew Stafford before he was traded to the Rams and appeared to be doing all they could to land disgruntled Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson. Darnold is a fall back to be sure, but can he reset his career in Carolina?
There was a lot to like about Darnold coming out of USC, but he wasn’t the answer for the New York Jets, who needed a quarterback who could quickly make the whole team better. Instead, Darnold needed a team that could help prop him up while he learned to be an NFL player.
The Panthers are a better team than the Jets and are set up to help Darnold help them. Can he get past his turnovers and pocket troubles? The Panthers have invested in their offensive line this offseason, as they tagged Taylor Moton, re-signed John Miller and brought in Cameron Erving and Pat Elfein in free agency. They still need help on the line, but this trade could keep them from targeting a quarterback with their No. 8 overall pick and turn that pick into more offensive line help.
A good offensive line and running game fueled by Christian McCaffrey will go a long way toward helping Darnold reach his potential. His chances of being a fantasy starter remain slim, but his chances have gone up with this trade. An outlet receiver like McCaffrey to go along with D.J. Moore and his old teammate Robby Anderson give Darnold some upside even in an offense that will likely work to hide Darnold’s faults.
There is still a chance that Bridgewater wins the quarterback battle, but they know what they have in Bridgewater and will do all they can to give Darnold the opportunity to thrive. He probably isn’t going to kill the offensive skill players in comparison to Bridgewater last season, but we can’t be too bullish on him raising their value either.
Despite the Jets playing dumb about Darnold’s future, this was always the probable outcome. They will start another rebuild with new head coach Robert Saleh and he will get the quarterback of his choice after Trevor Lawrence goes to Jacksonville. Justin Fields, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson are all in play for the Jets with the No. 2 pick in the draft.
After another lackluster year from Darnold last season, the Jets will put a lot of hope into the quarterback they pick. He truly can’t be much worse than Darnold, but no matter what, the Jets quarterback will continue to limit the Jets offensive skill players.
Both the Jets and Panthers will have trouble with efficiency this season and only a player like McCaffrey, who we know will get big usage on the ground and through the air, will be poised to continue his usual fantasy output. We will likely see Moore and Anderson and whoever the Jets put out there, continue to be hit and miss depending on their usage.