Just when you think you have seen it all in the NFL, something new hits you.
On Thursday morning we witnessed a surprise reunion between the Carolina Panthers and former league MVP Cam Newton.
The veteran unceremoniously exited in 2019 and after a year away with the New England Patriots, he will now play the role of Superman to try and save this team’s playoff hopes.
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Draft Compensation Worsening
In exchange, the green and white received three draft selections a 2021 sixth-rounder and a second and fourth-rounder in 2022.
Those picks were looking good from a Gang Green vantage point thanks to Darnold’s recent struggles:
- 59.5 percent completion percentage (fifth-lowest among qualified passers)
- 7 touchdowns to 11 interceptions (leads the league)
- 1,986 passing yards (19th in the league)
All of those issues were the main reason that the Panthers have lost five of their last six games. Now Carolina will be going in a different direction.
The former USC product suffered a “partial fracture of his scapula” and is expected to miss between four and six weeks. He will be placed on injured reserve, where he’ll be forced to miss a minimum of three games if not more.
Newton can’t play much worse than Darnold did, which means these draft selections will likely shift more in the Panthers’ favor. He’ll be able to provide a spark to this offense that is overflowing with potential and weapons like DJ Moore, Christian McCaffrey, and Robby Anderson.
Sam Darnold Era Coming to a Brutal End
Things obviously haven’t gone well for Darnold at his second NFL stop and the latest move likely spells the end of his tenure as the starting quarterback.
Newton being signed mid-season wasn’t a great sign and when you take a deeper look into the contract, it doesn’t bode well for Darnold.
Newton signed a one-year deal that can be worth as much as $10 million and features $4.5 million guaranteed with a $1.5 million roster bonus.
That’s a lot of money at any point of the year, let alone in mid-November. As Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated noted on Twitter, “these numbers don’t bode well for Sam Darnold getting his job back.”
A lot of people criticized the Panthers when they initially made the trade, but that wasn’t even the worst part. Trading for a player that has shown struggles is one thing but then exercising his fifth-year option made a bad thing much worse.
Now regardless of what happens, they’ll owe the 24-year old a guaranteed $18.8 million in 2022.
Normally you can’t tell who won a particular trade for years because you have to see how things play out on either side. Although in this specific case it seems clear as day the Jets won this deal hands down.
What the No. 2 overall pick in Zach Wilson ultimately becomes is still to be determined, but at least the Jets didn’t perpetuate the mistake by sticking with Darnold a year too late and would be forced to find their quarterback of the future in 2022.
The Jets made the right decision moving on and now Darnold’s future in the NFL appears extremely uncertain.