Would Panthers draft a quarterback and trade Sam Darnold?

Washington Redskins v Carolina Panthers
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When the Panthers traded for quarterback Sam Darnold, a report emerged that they would pick up his 2022 option, at $18.858 million. They haven’t. On Friday, G.M. Scott Fitterer said they would address the issue of fifth-year options after the draft, and that they have a “strong plan” in place for Darnold.

It’s hard to imagine this meaning anything other than the Panthers are being coy because they can, and that they’ll eventually pick up the Darnold option and give him the same one-year test run that they gave to Teddy Bridgewater. After all, they invested a sixth-round pick in 2021 and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 to get Darnold from the Jets.

But what if Trey Lance or Justin Fields or Mac Jones manage to sneak through to No. 8? Owner David Tepper wants a franchise quarterback. And Tepper is willing to sink cash and/or draft picks into the effort to find out.

Tepper built his billions by taking plenty of calculated risks. What if Tepper balanced the cost of trading up against the cost of creating protection against being leapfrogged, if one of the top quarterbacks trickles past the No. 6 spot? Without Darnold in Carolina, the Lions at No. 7 would be the prime spot for a team that wants to keep the Panthers from taking whichever top quarterback may remain. With Darnold in Carolina, the Broncos at No. 9 (for example) will feel far less compelled to jump the Panthers.

So instead of incurring the expense of trading up, what if the Panthers opted for the cheaper option of trading for Darnold and in turn creating the impression that they’re not all in for a quarterback? Then, if they get Lance or Fields or Jones at No. 8, they can do what the Cardinals did two years ago, after picking Kyler Murray with the first overall selection — trade Darnold elsewhere, with his new team having the flexibility to decide whether to pick up the option for 2022.

Candidates for a pre-May 3 Darnold trade, based on how the board falls, could be the Patriots, the Steelers (who need a successor to Ben Roethlisberger), the Texans (depending on the Deshaun Watson situation), the Eagles (with them, who knows?), Washington, the Bears, and maybe even the Seahawks (depending on the still-simmering Russell Wilson situation).

The chances of something like that happening are slim. But they’d be even smaller if the Panthers were opting not to create a potential mystery about their plans for Darnold.

22 responses to “Would Panthers draft a quarterback and trade Sam Darnold?

  1. I think Carolina isn’t picking up the fifth year option on Darnold to create doubt in other teams who want one of the QBs to trade up with Detroit at #7. This will let more of the top non QBs to fall to them at #8. The NFL draft has a lot of gamesmanship going on.

  2. Panther trade the 8th pick to the Texans for Deshaun Watson…settle the lawsuits, get suspended for the year, Darnold plays this year, Clemson is in the Carolinas they will forgive him, they owner wants a susperstar qb…

  3. It’s bad enough they gave up 3 picks for the worst starting QB in the NFL not named Trubisky. Imagine if they compounded that mistake by moving him again for pennies on the dollar.

  4. Honestly, this makes a lot of sense… Every team he listed would be better off if they had Darnold. I could see him getting moved again for sure.

  5. It just depends on how they rate all these QB’s. They might have Darnold ahead of all the QB’s except Trevor Lawrence. In that case, they certainly wouldn’t be drafting an inferior QB. I don’t think it’s unanimous that everyone believes Darnold looked his best with the Jets. History shows many super bowl winning QB’s were given up on by their original teams, but became winners when they went to good teams. Steve Young. Brett Favre. Jim Plunkett. Kurt Warner. Drew Brees. It will, happen again. Unless you’re out there thinking the Jets are a sound organization. I’d say the Jets are the exact type of organization that would get rid of a great QB, and then watch him win elsewhere. I don’t remember anyone’s jaw hitting the floor when Tampa Bay gave up on Steve Young, and most people had never heard of Brett Favre when Atlanta gave up on him. New England was the worst franchise in the NFL when they gave up on Jim Plunkett. Everyone thought all those QB’s were busts.

  6. Trading Russell for lots of draft picks next season or later is a very definite possibility. This year, with the huge increased dead money Cap Hit, not a chance.

  7. One thing is for certain, and that is the fact that this year’s draft seems to have more possible trades, and possible moving going on than any past draft in recent memory

  8. I guess some people would call it the Patriots giving up on Plunkett. However, receiving three first round picks and a second rounder from SF was a fairly significant return. I think, in truth, it was SF that gave up on Plunkett after 2 years, and simply released him.

  9. Panthers have till may the 6th so if Feilds drops & i don’t think he will they can take him not pick up the 5th

  10. I just watched KC’S first round pick get traded for a player and a shuffled deck of picks. Anything is possible this draft season.

  11. Mac Jones, SURE, No brainer!
    Fields and Lancewill be a step backwards.. At least darnold already has a season of experience in this league…

  12. Don’t count Stidham out just yet. If the Patriots trade down then I think Bill will him a legitimate chance to start with a better around him.

  13. It’s possible, but it’s more likely that they’re either trying to increase the chance that someone they want falls to them by pushing teams to trade above them, or upping the price for a team (for example, the Patriots) to trade up to #8. This article certainly doesn’t hurt that.

  14. Mac Jones will likely be the 3rd overall pick in this draft, unless the Jaguars or Jets pick him instead of Zach Wilson or Trevor Lawrence. Frisco does not need or want a Lamar Jackson clone or Kyler Murray clone.

  15. No one but the Panthers were interested in Darnold, they bid against themselves.
    I can see giving up a 5th for him, as a backup.
    See if he can improve. The Panthers may draft a QB and let Darnold start the season and see how it goes.

  16. Of course they will take a QB look at their backups, exactly that is why they will take one later on. I think the one everyone is sleeping on is the young man by the name Ridder.

  17. jac1216 says:
    April 25, 2021 at 12:35 pm
    Of course they will take a QB look at their backups, exactly that is why they will take one later on. I think the one everyone is sleeping on is the young man by the name Ridder.

    I think you’re the one sleeping, Ridder choose to go back to Cincy for his senior year!

  18. It would mean the dumb Jets would have succeeded at fleecing other teams twice within the past year. First, they take Seattle to the cleaners with the Adams trade and now, if Carolina trades Darnold it will be like the Jet’s got a haul of draft picks for free.

    Jets ownership may not have changed, but this GM did not get off the boat last night.

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