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Jets trade Sam Darnold to Carolina Panthers
QB swapped for 3 draft picks
Published Monday, April 5, 2021 7:00 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Sam Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NFL draft who spent his first three seasons as the Jets' starting quarterback, was traded to the Carolina Panthers Monday.

The Carolina Panthers may not be Sam Darnold’s team, but they are not Teddy Bridgewater’s either.

Darnold’s deal with was done Monday afternoon. The Jets, who are set to pick second in the April 29 NFL draft, received a 2021 sixth round pick and second and fourth round picks in 2022 in exchange.

The 23-year-old Darnold has three seasons of experience as a starter in the league, more than Panthers’ backups P.J. Walker and Will Grier combined. Both of them are 26 years old. In his first season for the Panthers in which they finished third in the NFC South at 5-11, Bridgewater passed for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in addition to 53 carries for 279 yards and five scores.

Darnold, by comparison, has more interceptions (39) than games played (38). He played in 12 games last season, passing for 2,208 yards nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions and rushing for 217 yards and two scores with the Jets, who were last in the AFC East at 2-14. Over his career, Darnold has thrown for 8,097 yards and 45 touchdowns, while rushing for 417 yards and five touchdowns.

Bridgewater and Darnold’s paths have overlapped before. Bridgewater, who signed with the Jets ahead of the 2018 draft when they selected Darnold, was traded to the Saints that August.

“I was able to reach out to Teddy today,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said. “I talked to his representative. We had a really good discussion. Not to get into any of the details, but I think we are all on the same page of where we stand. I’ll let coach kind of handle what the pecking order is and what the plan is. Overall, the whole idea of bringing Sam in was to raise the competition level at the quarterback position and get it to where it needs to be.”

Fitterer believes Darnold will work well with head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. Darnold was a hot commodity coming out of Southern California when the Jets selected him No. 3 overall. Fitterer said he liked Darnold as a competitor coming out of college, and that he believes he can take the next step with the Panthers. Darnold will not be utilized often as a runner, but Fitterer is confident with his movement in the pocket and ability to push the ball downfield. Darnold will reunited with wide receiver Robby Anderson, who left the Jets for Carolina in free agency last year and will have offensive weapons like All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receiver D.J. Moore.

Darnold’s contract has one year left on his rookie deal — $4.774 million in base salary and roster bonus. The Panthers can exercise his fifth-year option by May 3 for $18.858 million, which would be guaranteed money.

The Panthers have seven picks heading into the draft, including No. 8 overall. While they have addressed positions in free agency, such as signing offensive tackle Cameron Erving to a two-year deal last month and defensive end Haason Reddick to a one-year pact, Fitterer is still focused on building line depth on both sides of the ball.

“The bottom line is we have to shore up the offensive and defensive line,” he said.



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