Charlotte has been longing over a quarterback ever since Cam Newton went down with a shoulder and foot injury. Teddy Bridgewater was the presumed answer to this gaping hole in the Panthers roster, but after a mediocre at best 2020 season, the Panthers have undoubtedly moved on from the underwhelming QB.
The Panthers have been in the market for multiple quarterbacks throughout the offseason. NFL veteran Mathew Stafford was inches away from heading to Charlotte before a last-minute trade with the L.A. Chargers. Then Houston star Deshaun Watson looked like a likely target for the Panthers but neither side made any ground due to the Texans’ refusal to trade Watson and then many sexual assault allegations against the young quarterback. The overall consensus was that the Panthers were either going to draft a quarterback or that they will stick out with Teddy Bridgewater for the next season.
In the past few weeks though, rumors spread that multiple teams were calling the Jets about Sam Darnold. Sam Darnold is coming into his fourth year in the NFL this season but has never been able to shine in the Jets system. He’s thrown for over 8 thousand yards with 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions in his three seasons with New York. Later on, rumors were spread that the Darnold sweepstakes were narrowed down to two teams; the Steelers and Panthers.
At 3:58 P.M. on Monday, April 5th, Ian Rapoport tweeted out that the Panthers have traded for Jets quarterback Sam Darnold and in a later tweet mentioned the Panthers would be sending over a 6th rounder from this years draft, and a 2nd and a 4th from next year’s draft. While the value of Sam Darnold is debatable, this deal is a relatively low-risk deal for the Panthers. Sam Darnold has one year left in his rookie deal (with the option of a 5th year if the Panthers choose to) and if he doesn’t pan out with the Panthers, they move on and look for a new quarterback. If he does pan out then the Panthers have just received their franchise quarterback for a cheap deal.
For the Jets, it’s just about locked in that they will be picking up a quarterback at #2 in the draft. The overall agreement around the NFL is that the Jets will be drafting the BYU standout quarterback, Zach Wilson. It’s worth noting that Justin Fields and even Trey Lance will almost certainly be on the board at #2 too. The Jets will look to completely rebuild the team and drafting a rookie quarterback will be their first step in doing so.
Overall, this deal is a win on both sides. The Jets get draft capital for a quarterback they didn’t want anymore, and the Panthers receive a low-cost, high potential quarterback to hopefully fill a major hole on an exciting young team.