Jets Trade Sam Darnold To Panthers

3:26pm: Carolina will exercise Darnold’s fifth-year option, CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones tweets. This will tie Darnold to the Panthers through 2022 and fully guarantee Darnold $18.9MM next year.

3:03pm: The Jets are trading Sam Darnold to the Panthers, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Carolina will send back a sixth-round pick in 2021, as well as second- and fourth-round picks in 2022.

The Panthers had made no secret of their desire to upgrade at quarterback, and while Darnold is not coming off a particularly impressive season, he is a former top-three pick on a rookie contract. Although a previous report suggested the Panthers were not particularly high on Darnold, they had discussed him for weeks with the Jets, Schefter adds (via Twitter).

This trade also essentially confirms Jets GM Joe Douglas made his quarterback decision. The Jets have been linked to BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with their No. 2 overall pick. While some late rumblings suggested Darnold had support in the building for a fourth season, to either compete with Wilson or induce a trade-down maneuver, the Jets have been expected to draft Wilson and start over for a bit now. Douglas has now traded predecessor Mike Maccagnan‘s final two first-round picks — Darnold and Jamal Adams — over the past two years.

He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet,” Douglas said of Darnold. “While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him.”

Carolina had been the team most closely linked to Deshaun Watson this offseason. Owner David Tepper‘s desire to acquire the superstar Texans quarterback became known several weeks ago. Darnold is obviously well off the Watson tier, but the latter’s sudden off-field issues have quieted his trade market. The Jets were also linked to a potential Watson push. Both teams moving on signals the Pro Bowl quarterback may well be in Houston next season.

Darnold is still just 23 but has yet to deliver on the hype he carried in 2018. The Browns were connected to the USC prospect three years ago, but they opted for Baker Mayfield at No. 1 instead. Fixated on Saquon Barkley, the Giants refused to entertain trade offers that could have sent Darnold elsewhere. His New York stay produced occasional flashes, but the situation bottomed out in 2020. Darnold ranked last in QBR, among qualified passers, during his second season with Adam Gase. Darnold has yet to eclipse 20 touchdown passes in a season and has also missed at least three games in each of his three seasons.

The once-coveted prospect will be tabbed to replace Teddy Bridgewater, whose QBR figure ranked 17th last season. But Bridgewater has established a fairly low ceiling. Illustrated by this trade package, Darnold’s still remains relatively uncertain. Darnold will reunite with Robby Anderson in Charlotte, with Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore further illustrating the skill-position upgrade the maligned quarterback will receive. Darnold going from Gase to fast-rising OC Joe Brady represents intrigue as well.

The three-year veteran is due to count $9.7MM against the Panthers’ cap in 2021, but should Carolina pick up Darnold’s fifth-year option, his 2022 price would jump to $18.9MM. The Panthers will be forced to eat a chunk of dead money if they trade or release Bridgewater, who is attached to a three-year, $63MM contract. But Tepper authorized a long-term rebuild, giving Matt Rhule a seven-year contract. It would not surprise if the team picked up Darnold’s option for evaluation purposes. Considering Carolina’s interest in Watson, it would also not surprise if the Panthers made this move as a stopgap measure while Watson’s legal situation unfolds.

Holding the No. 8 overall pick, the Panthers can now focus on helping their Darnold-centered roster. This draft will almost certainly begin with three quarterback picks for just the third time ever. The Jaguars, Jets and 49ers’ choices will leave the rest of the QB-seeking crowd with just two of the much-hyped top five quarterback prospects for whom to vie.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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72 comments on “Jets Trade Sam Darnold To Panthers

    • Tatsumaki

      Wow is right. Surprised saints, Denver didnt look into darnold for that low a cost.

    • afsooner02

      Terrible trade for a massive bust. He’s not worth a second rounder…let alone 2 late picks on top of that. What is Carolina doing?

      • Ak185

        Maybe you don’t like the trade, but it’s really not that bad in terms of compensation. A multiple season starter at age 23 with potential to improve is certainly worth a late second round pick and a couple of Day Three selections. If you don’t think so, you just have no clue how many QBs (or players in general) wash out with less of a resume even than Darnold. The players that Carolina could have gotten with those selections probably-not certainly, but probably-would have given them less than Darnold will, at less valuable positions. He’s a 23 year old with starting experience-multiple years of it. And he can improve. Your take is just wrong.

  1. ron swanson

    Panthers got hosed. At least they didn’t trade for Deshaun “I swear it was just a massage” Watson.

    • rct

      Eh, I don’t think it’s that bad. It’s maybe a little bit of an overpay, but not by much.

      I don’t necessarily see how he’s better than Bridgewater, though.

      • whynot

        Younger with more room to improve, thus higher ceiling, that’s how he is better option that Bridgewater

  2. joeyrocafella

    As a Jets fan living in Charlotte, I’m excited to watch Darnold play for the Panthers. Great trade

    • despicable_you

      Ha good with him, guy hasn’t shown one ounce of being a viable option at qb, he’s a pick machine.

      • Tatsumaki

        Also played for a horrible team with next to no talent but go off.

          • Regi Green

            I remember when people were writing off Carson Palmer after his years in Cincinnati…then he goes to Arizona,makes the Pro Bowl and entered MvP conversations.

            And even though you can argue sitting out a year hurt him just as much,Leveon Bell went from 1 of the best backs in the league,to just about out of the league,after joining the Jets.And he just might’ve been Darnolds best target there.

            • rct

              “I remember when people were writing off Carson Palmer after his years in Cincinnati”

              I like Darnold, but please don’t compare him to Carson Palmer. It’s absurd. Palmer made the Pro Bowl in two of his first three seasons and led the league in TDs his second year. Darnold hasn’t done anything even close to that.

              And Palmer went to Arizona *after* playing in Oakland for two years. He was 34 years old when he went to Arizona, for crying out loud.

              Again, I like Darnold and think he can be a good QB in this league, but his situation has nothing in common with Palmer’s.

              • Regi Green

                The comparison was more about how the teams situation can have a positive/negative reaction on the player.Some players shift into gear after a change of scenery,just like there are stars that fade after moving from one team to another.

  3. phenomenalajs

    Not deal I wanted Jets to make, but it’s clear they are going to start over with Wilson. Watch Fields be the better player and Darnold turn around his career…

    • metsws2021

      With the Jets that scenario makes complete sense.

      I was hoping the Jets would keep Sam and trade down to fill the roster with multiple young (hopefully talented) players. On to the next “can’t miss” QB.

      • letmeclearmythroat74

        Not going to matter when it’s all said and done for either team.

        Neither team will compete

    • ruckus727

      3 picks including a likely high-middle 2nd rounder next season? For a dude who has shown nothing and admitted to seeing ghosts? I think Douglas knocked it out of the park.

  4. RyanO

    Nice haul for the jets. Looks like they’re moving forward with Wilson, looking forward to that.

    Also wish Sam the best, he was always a professional during some tough times. I hope he succeeds in Carolina.

  5. DarkSide830

    gosh for that return why not if you’re CAR. worst case scenario you’re not out that much.

    • Crycket

      A second rounder in today’s NFL, ESPECIALLY one from a bad team like the Panthers, is fairly valuable. Sam wasn’t worth more than a 6th the second he was recorded saying he was “seeing ghosts” against the Patriots. The world knew his confidence was crushed that day.

      • DarkSide830

        he was playing for a team coached by Adam Gase. you think you wouldnt have trauma playing for him?

      • Ak185

        The ghosts comment is fairly overblown. A lot of players who take that many hits in a game get antsy and overestimate the blitz pressure. Tom Brady is one, as the strategy for beating him and other elite pocket QBs is to hit them repeatedly until they lose their ability to accurately estimate the timing of pressure. And yes, we’ve seen Brady have terrible games because he’s been hit repeatedly. So that in a game is not as bad as everyone wants it to be, Darnold is just an easy target. Just because Darnold said that phrase means little to me. Watching him in other showed that he was perfectly normal, at least at his usual standard, at playing from the pocket.

        I would actually be more surprised had he not had trouble with pressure, given the state of the Jets’ o-line and their receiving options. It’s just a buzz word at this point now.

  6. balloonknots

    Sure beats trading 3 first for an unknown rookie or vet that’s older. Make it work now panthers Darnold is your qb for a while

  7. sambino

    I can’t believe the Jets were able to get that much. Nice trade for both sides.

      • real_ttebow_

        if hes there miami passes on pitts. gesicki & co is better than the third and fourth-strings wrs they have. chase is the right pick if he slips past the bengals

          • Ak185

            He’s saying that Gesicki is as good as their lower end wideouts from the TE position, not Fuller or Parker. It’s a fair observation I think, as Gesicki is talented in the receiver department.

            • barneyfifethelegend

              I think people are miss judging Pitts based on his position, TE. Calvin Johnson is a hall of famer who was a generational talent. Pitts is bigger, stronger, faster. Word on the street is if he’s at 7, the Lions grab him, which will drive Detroit fans nuts, because they are fixed on his position, “TE,” and the fact that the Lions have drafted two tight ends in the top 10 in the last 8 years. Most fans don’t understand what he brings to a team because he’s labeled a tight end.

  8. rct

    Genuine question (and I say this as someone who likes Darnold and thinks the Jets didn’t set him up to succeed): what has Darnold done to prove that he’s better than Bridgewater?

    Bridgewater is not great, but he’s certainly serviceable, which is more than you can say about Darnold. I assume the Panthers will try to trade Bridgewater now (Broncos? maybe WFT even though they already have several QBs?) but I can’t imagine the return is much.

    Just not really sure what the Panthers are doing here.

    • dan55

      To be fair to Darnold, he has never really had a good opportunity in New York. Adam Gase was the worst coach in the NFL during his Jets tenure, and the Jets had no talent on offense. Also, Darnold is still a really young quarterback who has shown flashes of potential.

      Bridgewater has had better situations than Darnold and he is older. The Panthers are probably going to let Darnold and Bridgewater compete for the starting job, so I don’t think they have completely given up on Bridgewater yet.

      • Appalachian_Outlaw

        Agree, Dan. Rct raises a fair question, but for a rebuilding club you’ve got to take the youth and the upside.

        With a great back like CMac behind him and some better coaching, Darnold will instantly be better.

      • rct

        Right. I’m fully on board with trashing Gase and the Jets for not helping Darnold succeed, but I don’t really see how this makes them a better team, at least in the short term. Bridgewater is not great, but he still played way better than Darnold last season, even without McCaffrey.

        I honestly don’t think there will be a QB competition. I think this is Darnold’s team now. They traded three picks for him and just exercised his fifth year option. I don’t think they’d do that if they planned for him to be a backup. I expect Bridgewater to get traded.

        • Appalachian_Outlaw

          I don’t know that right now, today, there is a large difference between the two, rct. Bridgewater may even be better in the now. I think the biggest thing is one is 23 and the other is 28. At 28, Teddy probably is what he is. If Carolina doesn’t seem him as good enough, that likely doesn’t change.

          At 23, Darnold still has potential. He may never realize it, but I think the move says Carolina isn’t as concerned about the short-term. With TB largely running it back, there probably isn’t reason to be.

          • rct

            Totally agree with you, Appalachian, except on one point. I don’t think there’s any question that, as of right now, Bridgewater is the better QB. Going forward, maybe Darnold is better, but right this second? It’s unquestionably Bridgewater. Compare their stats.

  9. fathead0507

    Him going to Carolina is basically slapping fresh coat of lipstick on a hooker.. still gonna suck

  10. Jimbobroy

    Great for Darnold getting out of the toxic mess that is New York. Jets just chasing this years shinny penny that is Wilson. They will still suck!

    • elscorcho the marlin

      Damn, Jimbo. I’m a Dolphins fan and still don’t have that vitriol.

      • Jimbobroy

        Steeler fan here, I just know how dumb the Jets are and how they continue to make bad decisions. Haven’t sniffed the SB since 69 says it all!

  11. oilers777

    Darnold hasn’t shown that he can play well in the NFL. Bridgewater is a better quarterback than Darnold. The Panthers lost this trade.

    • real_ttebow_

      while there isnt much to say about what darnold has done, bridgewater is still on the roster. let them fight it out, for so little a return it is definitely worth the flier. if he still sucks, you have a backup with experience.

  12. jfive

    Wonder if Jets try to sign Alex Smith to 1yr deal and give Wilson a chance to sit and learn

  13. fisher40

    This guy has a ton of talent. Leave it to the Jets to give up on him so soon

  14. giants51

    Change of address is the best thing to happen to him… best of luck

  15. MiPatrick

    The winner in this deal will be Darnow and the loser is the Jets who seem to be as dysfunctional as the Texans. Maybe Saleh can turn it around but the odds are against it. Wilson may be the best QB in the draft but he will have a tough time showing that with the Jets, I feel sorry for the guy.

    They could still trade him this year but the smarter move would be to keep him and try to build his value and trade him next spring.

  16. crosseyedlemon

    Darnold at least has a chance now that he has escaped from the bumbling Jets organization. Big Mac is the meal ticket in Carolina so Sam will be under less pressure. The Panthers won’t be any worse off and still have options depending on how Darnold plays in his option year.

    • Ak185

      Although I agree with you, nobody calls him Big Mac. It’s kind of the antithesis to who he is, anyway, as the major question about McCaffery has always been his size.

  17. gogoblue

    49ers management must be doing cartwheels somewhere. If the lowest rated QB from last season can fetch conditional 2nd rounder, then they can legitimately ask for 1st round pick for Jimmy G….

    • rocky7

      Ah, the 2021 pick obtained is a 6th round pick…basically cannon fodder maybe for special teams….the 2nd rounder is for 2022 and if Carolina is successful in the 2021 season, that 2nd rounder is the bottom third of the second round…..don’t think the 49’ers will get a 1st round draft choice for a QB they traded a second rounder for originally and secondly for a QB they’ve already pretty much thrown under the bus rumor wise…..

    • waterdog311

      Yeah, maybe a 4th? JG had players around him…SD had security guards from Citi Field during their off season.

    • forwhomjoshbelltolled

      They can ask.

      For better or worse, Darnold’s prime is ahead of him.

  18. Mr_KLC

    >I remember when Steve Young played for the Buccaneers. He was a gigantic bust. Then the 49ers traded for him, and the rest is history. I’m not saying he’s Steve Young, but he at least might be like another Buccaneers qb in a bad situation, and that’s Vinny Testeverde. He became a very serviceable qb until he was 40 when he was saved from that purgatory in Tampa. I think this kid is going to prove his worth.

    • phenomenalajs

      I believe Steve Young first showed his pro talent in the USFL and got a ridiculous contract at the time from the LA Express before the league went bust.

  19. waterdog311

    I think Sam will make the jets look like fools…which let’s be honest, is not like quantum physics.

  20. thebluemeanie

    I look at Darnold a lot like I look at Tannehill: with better talent, and especially better coaching, he can still be successful.

  21. angt222

    Happy Sam can get a fresh start elsewhere. He was never put in a particularly great position with the Jets and esp with Gase. Hope he can step up for the Panthers

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