Panthers make a two-year financial commitment to Sam Darnold

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In 2020, the Panthers made a two-year financial commitment to quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. After one year, the Panthers decided to move on.

In 2021, the Panthers have made a two-year financial commitment to quarterback Sam Darnold. In theory, they could decide to move on after one year, again.

Bridgewater’s three-year, $63 million deal included a $15 million signing bonus, an $8 million salary in 2020, and $10 million in fully-guaranteed salary in 2021. At this point, Carolina’s only hope is to trade Bridgewater, unloading all or most of that $10 million onto someone else.

Darnold will earn $4.774 million in 2021, the last year of his four-year rookie deal. Under the terms of the 2020 CBA, his 2022 fifth-year option salary of $18.858 million becomes fully guaranteed when exercised. That’s a two-year commitment of $23.632 million to Darnold over two years.

Before 2021, the fifth-year option didn’t become fully guaranteed until the first day of the league year in which the option applied. As of this year, it’s fully-guaranteed when exercised.

That surely won’t stop owner David Tepper from moving on from Darnold after one year, if the Panthers conclude based on one season with Darnold the same thing they concluded based on one season with Bridgewater. It’s a sunk cost, a cost of doing business, a tax on the search for a franchise quarterback.

Whatever the verbal justification, finding a franchise quarterback involves kissing plenty of frogs that may or may not become franchise quarterbacks. Tepper knows that. And it won’t deter him from finding the guy who becomes a 10-to-15-year answer at the position, regardless of the millions spent at a kissing booth on Bridgewater, Darnold, and whoever else they try before finding a franchise quarterback.

11 responses to “Panthers make a two-year financial commitment to Sam Darnold

  1. Teddy is injury prone and for that can’t truly be relied upon for 17 games and more into the post season… Darnold is an up grade and has potential… Whether that results into a winning season will be the going question!

  2. A no-brainer for the Jets. Shocked they got that much. The panthers were bidding against themselves. He’s no better then a 4th rounder at best. Is Rhule the 2021 version of Chip Kelly?

  3. Not sure this is an upgrade. It’s either tiny hands Teddy or Darnold who just isn’t good.

  4. Yes. Sam Darnold is a bust… Why would any GM give up so much draft capital for a QB that can’t stay on the football and when he does he sees ghost. The Jets were never going to pass on taking a QB in the first round of the 2021 draft. The Panthers would have been better suited acquiring Jimmy G…

  5. Sam Darnold was a turnover machine in college & for some reason the Jets picked him 3rd overall despite that fact. So Sam continued being a turnover machine for the Jets for 3 seasons. Now the Panthers trade too much draft capital & pay too much for that same turnover machine? Hopefully Joe Brady and the offensive talent on the Panthers will make Darnold be the QB experts thought he would be after he had a great bowl performance many years ago. Like a poster already stated, Jimmy G would have been a much better option or trade many draft picks to move up to get their QB of the future.

  6. This is really not a smart move for the Panthers. Why not just let him play and see what he does for the team first? He could still be a bust, what’s the hurry to resign the guy?

  7. “Not sure this is an upgrade. It’s either tiny hands Teddy or Darnold who just isn’t good.”

    I’m sure that Teddy would rather have small hands than the tiny part of your anatomy.

  8. The problem with this theory is when you keep throwing guaranteed money at guys that are “not likely” to be a franchise QB, not only do you consistently have less cap room than every other team due to the dead money after you cut bait, but you still don’t have a franchise QB.

    Is Tepper wants a franchise QB, then pony up and pay for one.

  9. My Fantasy Employer: $15 million at hiring to try one-year working interview.

    Me: “After much deliberation I’ll reluctantly give you a deal and not haggle.”

  10. If they go with Darnold as starter and get rid of Bridgewater, they may get the number 1 or 2 overall pick in the 2022 draft. They can then try to kiss yet another frog by drafting a quarterback.

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