The Jets have traded quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for three draft picks.
And there it is. The Sam Darnold era in Florham Park has concluded after just three seasons.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported the New York Jets have traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for three draft picks, one of which is a 2021 sixth-rounder. The Panthers then confirmed the deal on Twitter.
Can confirm pic.twitter.com/ZdeVPH2KAT
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) April 5, 2021
This comes after Darnold didn’t truly develop during his time with Gang Green. The Jets originally drafted the former USC Trojan with the third overall pick in 2018.
Following the move, Jets general manager Joe Douglas issued a statement.
Statement from Jets’ GM Joe Douglas: pic.twitter.com/7TreFpVc33
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 5, 2021
Per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the Panthers will additionally exercise the fifth-year option in Darnold’s contract.
The Panthers will exercise QB Sam Darnold's fifth-year option, per source.
— Jonathan Jones (@jjones9) April 5, 2021
The trade additionally provides clarity on what New York will do in the first round — the organization will most likely draft BYU quarterback Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall to take the reigns in 2021 and beyond.
What the Jets do at No. 23 remains to be seen, but if they wish to further build the slate of offensive weapons, they could draft a running back or receiver with that late opening-round choice. Travis Etienne and Najee Harris could be available as well as receivers Kadarius Toney and Rashod Bateman.
Amid the wide debate of whether Darnold or a draftee was to be the team’s primary signal-caller moving forward, the former’s trade market was seemingly diminishing. Washington, Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, and Chicago could’ve all been potential suitors until they made moves to acquire quarterbacks. The same went for San Francisco, who recently traded up to the No. 3 overall pick and will likely be selecting a quarterback with that prestigious selection.
The lone possible teams remaining were Carolina and Denver. While the former possesses the No. 8 overall pick, it was unclear whether the Panthers were going to be in the position to draft any of the top quarterbacks they preferred — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, or Mac Jones. There’s a chance four quarterbacks could be off the board by the time the No. 4 pick (Atlanta, at the moment) comes and goes.
While the Jets are potentially set to draft Wilson, it’s unknown what the Panthers will do with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater after signing him to a deal just last offseason. The veteran likely doesn’t possess a noteworthy trade market, just like Darnold didn’t. Bridgewater would additionally carry a $20 million dead cap charge if Carolina was to cut him.