The No. 3 overall selection has been trying to find his place in the NFL after enduring two coaching changes in New York — the second one ended with his departure — and injuries in Carolina. Now the former USC golden boy has been replaced by Baker Mayfield, who of course was originally drafted two slots higher than him by the Cleveland Browns.
Based on Darnold’s $18.858 million cap hit — which the Panthers could free up via trade — they’d love to move the gunslinger once he returns from the short-term injured reserve in Week 5. And with the injuries occurring around the league, one NFL analyst believes another Darnold trade could be more probable than it seems.
Sam Darnold Called ‘Most Enticing’ Trade Option at QB
During a trade block update on Bleacher Report, NFL writer Kristopher Knox called Darnold the “most enticing quarterback option available on the trade market” after the Trey Lance injury ruled out Jimmy Garoppolo from being moved.
“If a team needs a spot starter, Darnold can at least fill in,” reasoned Knox, “and the Panthers should be more than willing to move him. This is Mayfield’s team at least for the 2022 season, and Carolina should be happy to get a team to take on any of Darnold’s $18.9 million guaranteed salary.”
Although Carolina could theoretically unload this contract in a trade, Knox noted that “the Panthers likely will have to pay a large chunk of Darnold’s salary to move him,” similar to the Mayfield deal that replaced him.
The Bleacher Report analyst did admit that the list of quarterback suitors is a bit barren right now, linking the Dallas Cowboys and San Francisco 49ers as the only two that really make sense. Browns interim starter Jacoby Brissett earned his short-term gig after his performance against the Jets and most franchises are tied to a QB either financially or developmentally.
“The Cowboys would only be interested in Darnold as a backup or if Cooper Rush struggles or gets injured,” Knox voiced. “The San Francisco 49ers would similarly be looking at Darnold as an insurance option only.”
There was one juicy disclaimer that the writer added to round out the segment though. “His trade value could skyrocket if another starting quarterback gets injured,” Knox pointed out, concluding that “Darnold plays the game’s most important position, still has some untapped potential and can easily be had for a price.”
Latest Injury Update on Zach Wilson
Enough about past franchise QBs, the Jets’ current quarterback of the future is nearing his return despite the media-spurred controversy involving Joe Flacco. NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport confirmed that Zach Wilson is on schedule for a Week 4 comeback in Pittsburgh.
According to Rapoport, this will be Wilson’s ramp-up week with Flacco named as the starter in Week 3.
Head coach Robert Saleh also shot down any notion of a Flacco run with Wilson healthy during his September 21 press conference, stating that “Zach Wilson is the future of the organization” and that the Jets will “get him on the field” as soon as the doctor’s clear him.
Here’s footage (courtesy of SNY Jets Videos) of Wilson practicing on Wednesday of Week 3 — looking healthier and healthier by the day.
Some believe this surging NYJ offense can really begin to click with the more mobile Wilson at the helm. We’ll see if the BYU product can do what Darnold couldn’t and cement his role as the Jets’ long-term answer at quarterback.