Sam Darnold is No. 1 in Carolina for now, but the quarterback job is “up for grabs”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Carolina Panthers
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The third overall pick in 2018 currently is the top cat at quarterback in Carolina. That doesn’t mean a 2022 third-round pick can’t knock him off.

Panthers G.M. Scott Fitterer, in a recent appearance on #PFTPM, addressed the dynamics regarding veteran Sam Darnold and rookie Matt Corral.

“Sam is the number one guy right now,” Fitterer said. “He has every opportunity to take it and run with it. We hope he does well. We’ve seen improvement already under [offensive coordinator] Ben McAdoo. He’s working hard, he’s throwing the ball well. He’s just got to take it and run with it. He’s got to own the position. The one thing we’re looking to do is stabilize the position. It’s been up and down, up and down. We’re bringing in Matt Corral. P.J. Walker‘s already here. We’ll see how it goes. He’s in the lead right now, but until someone really owns that position, gives us an opportunity to win, it will always be up for grabs.”

It’s easy to forget that the Panthers and Darnold started well in 2021, and that things got a little dicey after that. Carolina was 3-0, and Darnold was getting it done.

“I thought he did play well the first three games,” Fitterer said. “I thought he played really well even into the Dallas game. He played well in the first half. I think injuries, losing [Christian] McCaffrey did play a factor in it, but really it was the inconsistency of the offensive line. There was too much leakage up there. That was one priority going into this offseason, improving the offensive line. We brought in three new bodies that we think can come in and help us start. Drafted a left tackle here in the first round. I think that can only help the quarterback. With Sam when he has time, he delivered the ball [and] looked good, but when he didn’t have time, even when Cam Newton was here, he didn’t have time. It’s hard to play that position and it’s not solely on the quarterback, it’s on us. It’s on the whole offense but one of the big steps we did take was fixing that offensive line.”

As to Matt Corral, Fitterer said that the rookie will play if he “gives us the best opportunity to win.” And even with the drafting of Corral, the door isn’t closed. Although Fitterer wasn’t specifically asked about Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (Fitterer can’t comment on a player under contract with another team), he was asked to generally discuss the possibility of trading for a veteran quarterback.

“I would say quarterback or any other position,” Fitterer said, “if there’s someone out there that we think can help us, we’ll keep our minds open. We have the money set aside to make several different moves and that was important for us to do. We want that flexibility but if someone can help us regardless of position, we’ll make a move at some point.”

The final decision as to whether to pursue Baker Mayfield or even Jimmy Garoppolo may depend on what they seen over the balance of the offseason program or in the early stages of training camp. With the job, as Fitterer said, “up for grabs,” they need to have a plan in the event no one currently on the team grabs it.

20 responses to “Sam Darnold is No. 1 in Carolina for now, but the quarterback job is “up for grabs”

  1. The Panthers are smart enough to realize they’re better off with Darnold, than some slightly better guy that still sucks (Baker Mayfield). Good for them.

  2. Best of luck Sam – and Panthers. But Jimmy G in the mix – that ain’t happening. Jimmy, Jed, John Lynch and Kyle will all sit down in the very near future, discuss what just happened – more specifically “what did NOT happen when Jimmy G was whole and available and they’ll work out a proper contract befitting the premium backup/mentor for Lance. And off we go. Mark it!

  3. Its smart to go with Darnold, it gives them the best chance to draft high and get a QB in 2023

  4. If Matt Rhule implodes out of the gate then everything on the team will be up for grabs. Five wins and an implosion will not get the job done and moves will be made.

  5. Darnold would have been the number one pick in the draft this year, so if you’re hoping to get the number one pick, you already have him. Darnold can win in a stable environment, so if he’s not your answer at QB, you have other issues that need to be corrected. Constant change is not the way to fix a franchise. A lot of people want immediate gratification at the QB position (like John Elway), but that doesn’t work unless there’s stability in the organization.

  6. They should trade Darnold for Mayfield and a late pick ..same salary but mayfield is better ..and next year you’re done with him

  7. buffalobluecollarlunchbucket56 says:
    May 15, 2022 at 10:50 am

    Not a ringing endorsement.

    ————————-

    Darnold hasn’t earned a ringing endorsement nor has he earned the starting job.

  8. charliecharger says:

    May 15, 2022 at 1:11 pm

    Darnold would have been the number one pick in the draft this year, so if you’re hoping to get the number one pick, you already have him. Darnold can win in a stable environment, so if he’s not your answer at QB, you have other issues that need to be corrected. Constant change is not the way to fix a franchise. A lot of people want immediate gratification at the QB position (like John Elway), but that doesn’t work unless there’s stability in the organization
    ———
    Well in next years draft Darnold would be a 2nd round and in so and so he would have been 4th and blah blah blah blah. You either say nonsense or rattle off a lot of words charliecharger without actually saying anything. Darnold is bad. He turns the ball over way too much and that’s interceptions and fumbles(both lost and recovered since recovery is luck and either way it is at least a loss of down). He showed that early last year when Carolina was winning and people were overlooking what was happening. Yes if your team plays great and you get lucky enough you can hide Darnolds flaws but the point is it takes worlds of luck and skill everywhere else to actually win consistently with Darnold because saying 20 plus teams have a better qb than you sets you behind likely every wk and all season.

  9. That team, with that schedule of opponents this year, comes out to 2 wins. Split with the Falcons and then some random win versus another bottom feeder team.

  10. The NFC South may rival the NFC East for the title of Worst Division in the NFL. Tampa Bay and Brady will cruise in the NFC South.

  11. A good recap by Fitterer. Darnold’s shoulder injury should also be mentioned – he played hurt against New England, he shouldn’t have, then missed several games. Go Darnold – Go Panthers!!

  12. Tepper said he wanted to win Super Bowls, but thus far it seems his goal is to have the most dysfunctional franchise. Christmas card already en route from Haslam and Khan.

  13. Glad to see the focus is on the OL. It has been a problem for entirely too long.

  14. One of the key statements made was regarding the offensive line. If you have a marginal left tackle or a marginal line, the QB is going to cough it up a lot. I am a Steeler fan and last year they had less than stellar front line which is why many of Ben’s passes were thrown within 3 seconds. Ben is, without question a great QB and seasoned veteran, able to read defenses better than a younger QB. If Carolina can shore up that front line Darnold stands a chance. I think he is an average QB but with a good line and good receivers he might be decent.

  15. I’m not gonna try to say that Darnold is a great QB, but people should remember that he’s not solely responsible for his lack of progress in the NFL. Gace admitted that he did nothing to try to develop Darnold, plus the Jets were just a bad team. No QB was going to magically make them good.

    That’s not Darnold’s fault. And he’s currently on another bad team – that’s not Darnold’s fault. But, moving to a new team is never “plug & play” for a QB. These things take time. Trading for Darnold and giving up after one season is what a bad team would do (ahem).

    Have the Panthers gotten better in the offseason? Hard to say, but the fortunes of the team should not, and do not, rest solely with Darnold. I hate that oversimplification of team success that too often lets the coaching staff and front office off the hook when a team does badly – which is exactly what they want. QBs are used as scapegoats far too often, or a new QB is saddled with impossible expectations.

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