Despite trading a sizeable amount of draft capital to acquire QB Sam Darnold from the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers can still conceivably go in a different direction. But with his fifth-year option pickup deadline coming up, they’ll have to make a decision soon.
Speaking to the media this week, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer stated that the team will wait until after the NFL Draft to make a decision on Darnold’s fifth-year option. Fitterer hinted at a plan in place for the draft involving the quarterback position.
“There’s actually several of them that we’re excited about,” Fitterer said, via NFL.com. “But we’re not going to get into exactly who.”
The clear implication is that Fitterer wants to see if his desired quarterback in the draft falls to him. While it’s unknown who that desired quarterback might be, it may be unnecessary to pickup Darnold’s option if they get their man.
Scott Fitterer on Sam Darnold fifth-year option: Panthers "have a strong plan in place” that team will talk about after the draft.
— Joe Person (@josephperson) April 23, 2021
The Carolina Panthers gave a second-, fourth- and sixth-round pick to get Darnold. It would seem a silly for them to make that kind of trade for a one- or even two-year rental.
But given the state of the QB position and the confidence the Panthers have in their offensive coaching staff, some kind of upgrade was needed.
It remains to be seen whether Sam Darnold actually is an upgrade. Teddy Bridgewater and PJ Walker didn’t blow people away in 2020. But right now, the statement the team is giving out isn’t exactly a huge vote of confidence.
Will Sam Darnold be the Panthers’ starter for the next two years?