Sam Darnold Jets

Panthers take high-upside swing on Sam Darnold as Jets change course

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After months of speculation, it’s the Carolina Panthers who complete a Sam Darnold trade.

The Jets will receive a 2021 sixth-round pick along with second and fourth-round selections in 2022. This, according to reports, has been in the pipeline for weeks. The Panthers had been eyeing up Deshaun Watson, but Darnold is their man. It clears the path for the Jets to take a quarterback second overall, and gives Darnold a fresh start.

Sam Darnold trade analysis

Carolina was an obvious suitor for Darnold. Their quarterback situation has been unclear since ending the Cam Newton era. Picking down in eighth, their chances of getting a difference-maker in the upcoming NFL draft were slim.

For New York, this represents the next step on a fresh path for the franchise. Hiring Robert Saleh was meant to be a sign of a team changing course, and giving up on a former highly drafted quarterback shows this a new era.

Unfair circumstances

The Jets had been in disarray. Perhaps that’s being kind. Starting afresh makes sense for player and franchise. New York had clearly not been convinced of Darnold has a high-level NFL starter, and Darnold could fairly point to circumstances making the situation difficult for him. The Jets didn’t put him in position to succeed.


As a result, this looks like a good trade for Carolina. In pulling off a Sam Darnold trade, the Panthers have acquired a former third overall pick, who many tabbed as the best quarterback in his class. Darnold is still only 23. Unlike other talented, yet underachieving quarterbacks, availability has not been an issue. Carolina has their opportunity to develop him, to put the right pieces around him, and ideally provide the stability the Jets could not.

Evaluations of Darnold are all over the place. Some still buy into his high ceiling, while others will talk him down as no better than an average starter. Still so young, though, and with plenty of NFL experience to his name, there’s reason to like this Darnold trade for the Panthers.

New York can be happy to get a second-round pick for a player they had pretty much given up on. The Panthers will still be delighted with this outcome – this could be their quarterback of the future.

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