Sam Darnold was traded from the Jets to the Panthers this offseason, and hopefully the change of scenery will help him in Fantasy and reality. Darnold has struggled in three seasons as the starter for the Jets, and his best season was 2019 when he averaged just 17.4 Fantasy points per game. He's coming off a season-low 11.8 Fantasy points per game in 2020, but hopefully getting improved weapons in Carolina (Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and Terrace Marshall), along with better coaching, can help Darnold turn into a quality player. He's still just a No. 2 Fantasy quarterback in all leagues, and he's not worth drafting in one-quarterback formats. In two-quarterback and Superflex leagues, Darnold is worth a mid-round selection.
The Panthers have picked up Darnold's fifth-year contract option, Joe Person of The Athletic reports. Per the report, the decision to do so guarantees Darnold $18.9 million in 2022, keeping him under team control for the next two seasons. Darnold, who the Panthers obtained from the Jets earlier this month in exchange for second-, fourth- and sixth-round draft picks, thus appears locked in as the team's franchise signal-caller for the foreseeable future. That's a notion solidified by the team having dealt Teddy Bridgewater to Denver on Wednesday and then passing on taking a QB with the eighth overall pick in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday. Currently in the mix to back up Darnold are Will Grier, P.J. Walker and Tommy Stevens, but it's possible the team could bring in additional competition for the assignment.
The Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers on Monday in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round pick and 2022 second-round and fourth-round picks. The Jets ended up coming away with a strong haul for Darnold, who wasn't expected to be in the team's plans for 2021 with the likelihood of New York selecting a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft. As for the Panthers, a Teddy Bridgewater trade could be on deck, as Carolina plans to exercise the fifth-year option on Darnold's rookie contract, according to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports. Darnold thus looks positioned to enter 2021 as Carolina's starter, and though he struggled to find consistent success during his three years in New York, the Panthers are hopeful that offensive coordinator Joe Brady and a pass-catching corps highlighted by Robby Anderson, DJ Moore and Christian McCaffrey can get the best out of the 23-year-old signal-caller.
Jets general manager Joe Douglas said Wednesday he will "answer the call" when trade offers come in for Darnold, Connor Hughes of The Athletic reports. Douglas also said that his stance on Darnold "hasn't changed," adding that he has "no doubt" about the young signal-caller eventually achieving his "outstanding potential." The Jets have previously indicated that the team wouldn't be making a move at quarterback until evaluations of April's draft class had been fully completed, so Douglas' admission that the team will listen to trade offers for Darnold represents a significant change in tone. Rich Cimini of ESPN.com relays that Douglas still feels there's "no hard timetable" on a decision regarding Darnold's future, however. With the No. 2 overall pick in hand in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets will certainly be in position to select one of the top quarterbacks on the board if the team elects to move on from Darnold.
The Jets intend to fully evaluate the 2021 NFL Draft's quarterback prospects before making a decision about Darnold's future with the team, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Rapoport notes that the Jets have gotten "real interest" about dealing Darnold, who the team selected No. 3 overall back in the 2018 NFL Draft, but that any deal will have to wait until after top prospects have completed their Pro Days and subsequent interviews. Ralph Vacchiano of SportsNet New York recently estimated that Darnold could return value around the range of a "second-round pick, plus maybe another mid-to-late rounder" should the Jets indeed decide to deal him, with potential suitors including the Bears, Panthers, Broncos, 49ers, Patriots and Washington. Darnold, who will turn 24 this offseason, is coming off a pedestrian third year, with just 2,208 passing yards and nine touchdowns versus 11 interceptions across 12 appearances. He noticeably was more productive in 2019 over a similar span of games, with 3,024 passing yards and a 19:13 TD:INT in 13 contests.
Darnold completed 23 of 34 passes for 266 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in Sunday's 28-14 loss to the Patriots. He added three yards on one rushing attempt in the season finale. After struggling to move the football for most of the first half, Darnold tied the score at seven apiece with a 21-yard touchdown to Chris Herndon 1:40 before halftime. He was picked off with the game tied at 14 apiece in the third quarter and threw a crucial interception in the end zone to end New York's chances of coming back in the fourth. This pedestrian performance remarkably marked a season high in passing yards for Darnold, who finishes his third NFL season with 2,208 yards and an ugly 9:11 TD:INT in 12 appearances. Given the regression from the third overall pick in the 2018 draft, New York is expected to draft Darnold's replacement with the second overall pick in the upcoming draft.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|1||09/12||New York Jets||29||24.75|
|2||09/19||New Orleans Saints||10||19.00|
|7||10/24||@New York Giants||3||17.63|
|9||11/07||New England Patriots||4||17.88|
|11||11/21||Washington Football Team||6||17.88|
|16||12/26||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||19.80|
|17||01/02||@New Orleans Saints||10||19.00|
|18||01/09||@Tampa Bay Buccaneers||12||19.80|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||59.9||2699||15||13||139||2||194|