Should the Panthers finally trade Sam Darnold?
By: Jake Rajala
The Carolina Panthers made a bold move to acquire the highly-talented, yet inconsistent Baker Mayfield. Mayfield may not be coming off his sexiest season (a career-low 17 passing touchdowns to 13 interceptions), but it’s certainly expected that the former Browns QB with 11 wins in 2020 will have the keys to the offense in Week 1. With that said, a fascinating question arises: will the Panthers trade Sam Darnold?
Darnold may be an NFL bust at this stage in his career, but he is still 25 years old. It’s quite true that Darnold’s youth is a positive factor, especially when he’s played with Adam Gase in New York and a Panthers offense that has missed Christian McCaffrey far too much. The former first overall pick Jameis Winston had awful turnover issues at Tampa Bay but proceeded to have his best seven-game stretch at 27 years old (5-2 as a starter). Darnold (who is a free agent in 2023) may not blossom in a new situation in 2022, but he could undergo Bruce Wayne-like training with a new, sharp offensive mind in 2022 or 2023 and then compete for a starting job after a season of development with his new squad.
It seems clear that the Panthers should feel excited with their QB room if Darnold exits the building. Outside of Mayfield, the Panthers also have Matt Corral (third-round pick in the 2023 draft). Corral isn’t only a viable QB2, but he has similar potential as Darnold (at least). Corral can also have a lot more reps with Darnold out of the situation.
Plus, the Panthers could opt to bring back Cam Newton as a veteran presence.
I really believe that CAR should push Darnold out the door for a late round pick. The San Francisco 49ers also haven’t traded away Jimmy G, so the Panthers could benefit from a few QB-needy teams that haven’t been able to acquire Garoppolo. The Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions may be interesting in reeling in Darnold. The Green Bay Packers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be sneaky landing spots for Darnold — as he could aim to be the potential heir to Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady.
I fully expect Baker to be the QB1 for the Panthers in Week 1. Hence, I boldly believe the Panthers should deal away Darnold with their soonest opportunity. At worst, I forsee Darnold being exchanged for a late-round before the trade deadline. It’s honestly the dawn of a new era in Carolina — as
Sam Darnold Baker Mayfield and a healthy Christian McCaffrey will look to bring the team back to the playoffs.