It looks like an ex-New York Jets quarterback could be on the move again.
This past offseason the green and white dealt away Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a collection of draft picks, including a 2021 sixth-rounder, plus 2022 second and fourth-rounders.
It was a polarizing decision with some fans suggesting the Jets gave up on him too soon while others thought the proof had been in the pudding.
Regardless of which side of the debate you stood on, we all agreed that the Panthers seemed to be in a much better position from a talent and coaching perspective on paper.
For a variety of reasons, things haven’t worked out in 2021.
Darnold was benched, has more turnovers (18) than touchdowns (12) this season, and hasn’t taken that next step in his development.
Now he could be on the move again this offseason.
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A Wild Trade Proposal
ESPN’s Bill Barnwell played some offseason quarterback dominoes and predicted which passers would land where.
In his calculations, he threw out a trade proposal that would send Jimmy Garoppolo from the San Francisco 49ers to the Panthers for a conditional third-rounder. That, in theory, would make Darnold expendable and that led to another trade.
Barnwell proposed that the former USC star could stay in the NFC South with Carolina sending him to the New Orleans Saints for a seventh-round pick. It would be nothing more than a salary dump, which would be a long fall from grace as a former No. 3 overall pick.
In this deal, the Panthers would eat $12 million of the remaining $18.9 million due on his fifth-year option for 2022.
Essentially Carolina would be paying 63% of his contract to not play for them, which would be quite an indictment of him as a player.
One Last Opportunity
Darnold is only 24 years of age and is still overflowing with untapped potential. He didn’t realize it with the Jets and so far he hasn’t realized it with the Panthers.
In this new landing spot with the Saints, it would be a do-or-die situation.
This would be his last chance to be a starter in the NFL before he devolves into nothing more than a journeyman backup.
If Darnold can’t figure it out with one of the best offensive minds in football in Sean Payton, then he probably will never figure it out.
“The Saints would give him his best chance of success, given their coaching staff and offensive line,” Barnwell argued in his ESPN column. “For an organization so heavily invested elsewhere on the roster, taking a flier on Darnold might be one way to try to unlock upside under center. And hey, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Taysom Hill.”
The New Orleans quarterback situation is looking incredibly murky with only two quarterbacks under contract for 2022 in Taysom Hill and Ian Book, so a low-risk dart throw on Darnold would make a lot of sense. If it works out, they just found a franchise quarterback for a day three pick. If it doesn’t, they can move on in 2023 with zero cap ramifications.
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