Panthers Trade for Darnold, Now What?

On Monday, the New York Jets sent 2018 #3 overall pick, QB Sam Darnold packing to Carolina. The Panthers sent a 2021 6th-round pick and a 2022 2nd & 4th round pick. So, what does it mean for each team, and what is the fallout for the 2021 NFL Draft? Let’s break it down.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE JETS?

New coaching staff means new personnel. Robert Saleh and his offensive staff have obviously made it known that they wanted their own guy to groom. Currently, former FIU QB James Morgan (2020 4th) is the top QB on the Jets roster. It obviously means the #2 overall pick will be spent on a new passer. The tea leaves currently read that the pick will be BYU’s, Zach Wilson. I also would expect that New York will add a veteran backup at some point.

New York now has 20 draft picks over the next two seasons, including seven picks in the first two rounds in 2021 and 2022. The opportunity is certainly there for the Jets to completely reshape the roster and build around their new young signal-caller.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE PANTHERS?

First and foremost, I think we can put to bed the rumors of Carolina trading for veteran QBs like Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson. It also means that either Carolina was not enamored with the QBs that would have been available to them at either pick eight or wherever they could have traded up to.

In Sam Darnold, Carolina gets a QB that was obviously talented enough to be a top-five pick just three years ago. Darnold is also still just 23 years old. Historical precedent is also there for a dramatic production uptick once a QB is away from the awfulness that is Adam Gase’s coaching (see Ryan Tannehill). It doesn’t hurt that he will now get to work with universally beloved OC Joe Brady. They have already picked up his fifth-year option meaning they are now $18.8M committed to Darnold for next year.

Obviously, this means Teddy Bridgewater is likely to be on the move again. Carolina will seek to trade him, likely before the draft. Carolina should be able to regain some of the draft capital they just lost in acquiring Darnold.

As for the pick at eight, the Panthers are now positioned to be able to take a playmaker to help Sam Darnold or perhaps an offensive tackle like Penei Sewell or Rashawn Slater. They could also trade back and get some of the picks back as well.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE REST OF THE NFL?

We now know that the top three picks will be quarterbacks.

  1. Jags – Trevor Lawrence
  2. Jets – Likely Zach Wilson
  3. 49ers – QB

So, now that leaves the Falcons who are rumored to potentially draft a QB. Cincinnati just lost probably the one team that likely would have traded up for a QB with them. This means the Bengals will almost assuredly stay put and draft either Penei Sewell or Ja’Marr Chase.

What teams could look to acquire Teddy Bridgewater? My first instinct is Denver. The Broncos don’t seem to be enamored with Drew Lock. Could a reunion in New Orleans be in the offing? For either of those to work, Bridgewater will need to restructure his contract. Chicago and perhaps Pittsburgh could be a couple of other teams with interest in the former first-round pick.

Image courtesy of AP

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