On Tuesday, the New York Jets dealt third-year QB Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for a 2021 6th round pick (202), a 2022 2nd round pick, and a 2022 fourth-round pick.
This transaction comes after months of speculation that the struggling QB’s time could be coming to an end after a lackluster performance in the 2020 NFL season.
Darnold was selected by the Jets in 2017 with the third overall pick after the Jets gave up a premium haul to trade up with the Indianapolis Colts for the selection. Darnold struggled mightily in his first two seasons but showed some promise. Unfortunately for Darnold, his supporting cast was rather lackluster, with an unimpressive receiving corps and a weak O-line being characteristics of his time in New York.
In his first three seasons, Darnold started 38 games and passed for 8,097 yards and 45 touchdowns on a 59.8% completion percentage. Darnold would also throw 39 interceptions in this time, en route to a 13-25 record in his short career. These statistics are not indicative of a 3rd overall pick, and the growing pains that Darnold experienced were only magnified under the intense microscope of the New York media.
Darnold faced scrutiny from fans and New York media personalities yearning for a franchise QB for the Jets. Gang Green has lacked such a starter since Joe Namath departed broadway for LA in 1977. New York sports fans, and especially the cynical and depleted Jets fans, can be unforgiving. Young rookies drafted into the New York market often find it difficult to integrate into the environment because of the pressure that is put on them. However, Sam Darnold handled it magnificently, and he never seemed fazed by this aspect of being a Jets quarterback.
As for who won the deal, that is a question we have to wait to find the answer to. Darnold’s trade value has severely diminished after his abysmal 2020 campaign, and most NFL insiders believed that the Jets would only snag a second or third-round pick in exchange for the 23-year old. However, Darnold’s career is far from done, and his story is far from over. There may be a lot of untapped potential that still exists in Sam Darnold. The Panthers did not depart with a lot of valuable draft capital, so even if Darnold fails to live up to expectations, they did not waste much on the experiment. However, the Panthers exercised Darnold’s 5th-year option, which means there exists a commitment to the former first-rounder from the Panthers’ front office.
There is no clear-cut winner to the trade, but this move looks to have substantial ramifications in the NFL draft, with the Jets likely selecting a quarterback at two and the Panthers walking away from the QB market for now.