The Carolina Panthers traded for Sam Darnold last week and appear ready to hand over the quarterback reins to the former New York Jet.
It did not take much to get the former first round draft pick on the Panthers’ roster. Carolina gave up a sixth-round pick this year, and second- and fourth-round picks next year. That’s all it took to get the 23-year old quarterback on the Panthers’ roster.
We will soon find out if Darnold’s lack of success with the Jets was due to a lack of talent on the Jets’ roster. The issues he had in New York centered around a lack of weapons around him on offense and a lack of pass protection. These should not be issues with Carolina.
When asked what Darnold brings to the Panthers, head coach Matt Rhule talks of his new quarterback’s arm talent and some of the plays he makes with that arm. Rhule also talks of how Darnold extends plays with his legs.
In contrast to his time with the Jets, Darnold is walking into a situation that will be built for him to succeed. He will have an experienced quarterback coach in Sean Ryan, a more experienced offensive coordinator Joe Brady and what should be an improved offense from a year ago.
Rhule believes Darnold is salvageable, even though the Jets gave up on him. He clearly believes pairing Darnold with running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receivers DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, and a solid offensive line will give his quarterback a chance to show off the skills that made him a high pick.
Statistically speaking, the numbers are less than impressive. Darnold was 13-25 in three seasons with the Jets, including 2-10 last season. He had 45 touchdown passes and 39 interceptions with a completion rate of 59.8%.
Darnold finished as the NFL’s lowest-rated passer in 2020 (72.7), 36th out of 36 qualifying quarterbacks. His career passer rating of 78.6 ranks 39th out of 39 since 2018.
Yes, these numbers are less than impressive. But one has to believe Darnold now has a supporting cast that can improve those stats.
It will be interesting to see how this move plays out. But the franchise now has a young quarterback with skills.