I'll Be DARNed: Sam Darnold traded to the Carolina Panthers
Sam Darnold, the former quarterback of the New York Jets, has been traded to the Carolina Panthers. In return, the Jets receive one of Carolina's three sixth-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft as well as a second-round and fourth-round pick of next year's draft in 2022. The move comes with just over three weeks remaining until draft night.
Darnold was drafted by the Jets as the third-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft after throwing for 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions in two seasons playing for the USC Trojans. However, the transition to the pros has been anything but successful for the Capistrano Beach, CA native.
In three seasons with the Jets, Darnold has accumulated 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions. He also has a 59% completion percentage. Carolina's new quarterback only threw nine touchdown passes in 2020 and 11 INT's resulting in a QBR of 78.6, the worst rating in the league. Multiple injuries have been an issue for Darnold as well, including an AC joint sprain in week four of last season.
Not all the blame can be put on the 23-year-old quarterback, however, as the New York Jets franchise has had its own list of issues, including dismal coaching and a horrendous offensive line. In three years with the Jets, Darnold has been sacked an astounding 98 times, 35 of those sacks coming last season alone. In fact, the last time he wasn't sacked in a game was on December 9th, 2018 when the Jets pulled out a narrow 27-23 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Darnold comes to Charlotte playing for second-year head coach Matt Rhule and first-year general manager Scott Fitterer, who strongly believes the former Jet is ready to "take the next step" under the offense run by second-year offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
Now that the Panthers have found their presumptive starter at the QB position, look for the Charlotte-based franchise to provide Darnold with the two things that the New York Jets could not: offensive line protection and lots of weapons for him to throw to.