Now that the Panthers have provided the ultimate no-confidence vote to the potential franchise quarterback for whom they traded a year ago, what’s next for Sam Darnold?
The good news for Darnold is that he’ll make $18.8 million this year, unless of course he agrees to cut his pay (like Mayfield did) to facilitate a trade. But who at this point would trade for him?
There’s been no real chatter about teams that would swoop in for Darnold if/when Baker Mayfield becomes a Panther. Who would want Darnold now? Seattle? Houston? San Francisco as the non-Garoppolo placeholder until Trey Lance is ready? New Orleans? The Giants?
The Panthers surely would have to pay a large chunk of Darnold’s salary to make a deal happen now. Their best play could be to keep Darnold and wait for a potential injury, as the Browns potentially would have done — if Mayfield would have gone along with it.
That’s the big difference. While the bridge between the Panthers and Darnold may be currently shaky, it hasn’t been blown to smithereens. They can work together, with Darnold as the No. 2 to Mayfield. The Panthers can wait for a chance to trade Darnold, due to injury or ineffectiveness or whatever other factor could prompt a team to cut the cord on their current quarterback.
However it plays out, Darnold becomes the latest failed effort by owner David Tepper to finagle a franchise quarterback. It didn’t work with Teddy Bridgewater. It didn’t work with Darnold. If it doesn’t work with Mayfield, the Panthers and Tepper will keep on kissing frogs in the hopes that one of them will become the prince who will make the Panthers into a perennial contender.