Although the Panthers and Jets had discussed a Sam Darnold trade for a bit, the talks centering around a trade that became official Monday heated up last week. Joe Douglas and Scott Fitterer discussed Darnold at Ohio State’s pro day on March 30, Joe Person of The Athletic tweets. Other teams contacted the Jets on Darnold ahead of free agency, but during the time Douglas and Co. methodically evaluating this year’s draft-eligible quarterbacks, some would-be suitors moved on. By late last week, the Panthers were the last team left standing that would trade for Darnold, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes (video link). The Jets sought a package similar to the one the Cardinals received for fellow 2018 top-10 QB Josh Rosen, wanting a second-round pick and another mid-round pick or a player, according to Albert Breer of SI.com. (The Dolphins sent the 2019 No. 62 overall pick to the Cardinals for Rosen.) The Jets also proposed a pick-swap trade that would have sent Darnold and No. 23 to Carolina for No. 8, per Breer. The Panthers shut off that path but agreed to send a 2021 sixth, a 2022 second and a 2022 fourth for the former No. 3 overall pick. The Jets now have nine picks in Rounds 1 and 2 between this draft and next.
Here is more from the latest 2021 QB domino falling Monday:
- Douglas pulled the trigger on a trade more than three weeks away from the draft and did so because Jets brass saw considerable downside in waiting for a better offer. The Jets did not want to lose out on the Panthers’ three-pick proposal, according to The Athletic’s Connor Hughes (Twitter links).
- Perhaps paying customary lip service, Fitterer said (per Person, on Twitter) Monday the Darnold acquisition will not take the Panthers out of the quarterback mix at No. 8 overall. That pick, however, can now be used to help Darnold and accelerate the team’s rebuild. It could also be used as a trade chip. The quarterback-seeking Broncos hold pick No. 9, and at least one of the top five quarterbacks figures to remain on the board by then. A team keen on grabbing one of these QB prospects would seemingly be interested in jumping in front of Denver, should the Broncos stay at No. 9.
- Teddy Bridgewater looks likely to be a one-and-done as a Panther. As a starter, anyway. He could be off to team No. 5 soon. The Panthers will try to collect a mid-round pick for their 2020 starter, Person notes (subscription required). But they have been trying to unload Bridgewater for weeks, Breer adds. Bridgewater is set to carry a $17MM cap number in 2021, and unless a Case Keenum– or Nick Foles-type situation emerges in which Bridgewater agrees to redo his deal to facilitate a trade, the Panthers will have a difficult time unloading that contract.
- A virtual Darnold-Matt Rhule conversation played a role in Monday’s trade. When the Jets interviewed Rhule for their HC job in 2019, he spoke with Darnold. Rhule came away impressed with the quarterback, and Rapoport notes that meeting came into play when Rhule approved this trade (video link).