The Jets trade Sam Darnold to Carolina, and it looks like a win all the way around. New York picks up some draft picks, while Darnold lands in arguably the best landing spot available.
New York receives three draft picks as part of the deal – a sixth-rounder this year, and second- and fourth-round picks next year. That’s not a haul, but demand for Darnold was no doubt light after three down years. The Jets can now sit back and hope Carolina is lousy, landing that 2022 pick just outside the first round.
The Panthers no doubt have been mulling over the rookie quarterbacks. There are five that have been kicked around as a possible top-5 picks overall. How many of these quarterbacks does Carolina like? What would it cost to trade up to get one? And what are the odds of a quarterback that the Panthers like sliding down to No. 8?
Carolina has thought things over long enough to conclude that its best option is to move now. For a relatively modest price, they’ll bring in Darnold and see if he fits better in their system. If not, they’ll be looking at quarterbacks again next year.
Presumably, Carolina doesn’t think there’s much chance of a quarterback they really like being there at No. 8. Maybe they aren’t as high on some of these quarterbacks, or they’re confident the ones they like won’t be available. (Or there’s some non-quarterback they really like, or maybe they even are holding out hope of trading down themselves – the possibilities are almost endless.)
The Panthers are high enough on Darnold that they say they’re going to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. He’ll make over $18 million in 2022. I take that as evidence they have some belief he can turn things around. This is not like Dwayne Haskins (Steelers), Mitchell Trubisky (Bills) or Josh Rosen (49ers) where the team is bringing in a former first-rounder to see how he looks in camp.
Darnold has to be excited about this move. This is probably the only team that would have been willing to let him be an opening day starter, and there’s some good stuff here. They’ve got a good pair of wide receivers, along with one of the game’s best running backs.
In Joe Brady, they’ve also got a dynamic, up-and-coming play-caller who’s shown some ability to attack defenses. Carolina punched above its weight last year. Only 15 teams finished with more passing yards, and only five finished with a higher completion percentage.
In March, 2018, Teddy Bridgewater signed a one-year deal with the Jets. He got kind of kicked to the side when they drafted Darnold (they ended up trading him to the Saints in late August). Three years later, it looks like Bridgewater will be bumped by Darnold again.
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