Will Sam Darnold finally reach his potential in Carolina?

Sam Darnold finally has a new home. On Monday afternoon the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets struck a deal to send the former No. 3 pick to Charlotte. In return for Darnold the Jets received a 2021 6th round pick, a 2022 2nd round pick and a 2022 4th round pick.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news:

For The Panthers …

Carolina has been aggressively pursuing every QB on the market this offseason and finally landed one in Darnold. Of course, Darnold was option C or D for the Panthers. Owner David Tepper has made it known that they wanted to upgrade the position and that he believes the team is closer to competing than people realize.

The Panthers made a huge offer for Matthew Stafford and also pursued Houston’s DeShaun Watson before things became too dicey given the legal storm he’s now battling.

In landing Darnold they have a piece they believe they can build around, at least for the short term. The cost wasn’t significant to land the former USC quarterback. The 2022 4th and 2021 6th round picks are essentially flyers anyways, while the 2022 2nd round pick should be a top 50 pick, which is valuable, but it’s a delayed cost. The Panthers also picked up Darnold’s 5th year option, meaning they hold his rights for two seasons.

If Darnold doesn’t work out in Carolina, they can move on pretty cleanly. If he does work out, this is a steal.

The Panthers could keep Darnold AND draft a QB with the 8th pick in the 2021 draft should someone like Mac Jones, Trey Lance or Justin Fields drop to them.

For Darnold, he lands in a perfect spot. Coach Matt Rhule and OC Joe Brady will put Darnold in the best position possible to succeed. He will also inherit a pretty great group of wide receivers, led by D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson. Of course, he also gets a healthy Christian McCaffrey.

Darnold is still a young QB, he’ll be 24 when the 2021 season kicks off. He’s had a terrible coaching situation in New York and hasn’t had a ton of help at wide receiver or on the offensive line.

Remember, Darnold was considered by most draftniks to be the best QB prospect in the 2018 NFL Draft. Sure, Lamar Jackson, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield have been better pros, but Darnold still has a ton of talent and this seems to be a spot where he could succeed immediately.

For The Jets …

This is a pretty simple deal for the Jets. They got a top 50 pick in the 2022 draft, two flyer picks and the right to draft Zach Wilson with the 2nd pick in the upcoming draft. With a new head coach and offensive coordinator coming in, the team wanted a clean break from Darnold and a fresh start with a young QB who can absolutely sling it.

We’ll see how Wilson pans out for them, assuming that’s the pick. But for now this seems like a fine deal for them.

Fantasy Impact

Darnold is a bit of an upgrade from Teddy Bridgewater for the Carolina receivers. He’s more likely to throw the ball down the field than Teddy B and Joe Brady should be able to maximize his abilities within the offense. I would say it’s a slight upgrade for Moore and Anderson, but a slight downgrade for McCaffrey.

As for Darnold, he’s still a QB2 but has massive upside if everything pans out right. He could definitely be a low end QB1 by midseason.