Sam Darnold is commencing a new chapter in his NFL career after the Jets traded him to the Panthers early last month.
Nearly three years after drafting him No. 3 overall in 2018, the Jets decided to ship quarterback Sam Darnold to Carolina for a trio of draft picks, one of which was in this year’s sixth round. Many believed Darnold would be the next great Gang Green signal-caller, but a number of on-field issues — including injuries that caused him to miss 10 games in three seasons — prevented the former Southern Cal quarterback from reaching his full potential.
New beginnings are on the horizon though, and the standard Darnold is held to might be a bit different (and not as significant).
“It depends on how you see it,” Darnold told Darin Gantt of the Panthers official website when speaking on that new standard. “I’ve always had high expectations for myself, first and foremost. Expectations outside of that, to be honest, besides my teammates and my coaches, it doesn’t mean a whole lot.
“I think for me, it’s about what we expect as a team, what we expect to win, and for me, it’s about completing the ball and getting the team down the field and scoring touchdowns. That’s all I care about. As long as we do that and I do my job, we’re all good.”
The overall role will be different for Darnold.
Let’s look at the facts here: When he was drafted in April 2018, he entered a tough New York market as a young, 20-year-old quarterback who was expected to not only possibly start right away, but essentially be the savior of a franchise that hadn’t made the postseason since the 2010 season (the Jets still haven’t reached the playoffs since then).
That’s a notable request for a kid who, at the time of his selection, wasn’t even legally permitted to sit at a bar and order an IPA, or even just a Natural Light for that matter (hopefully you order something other than a Natty Light when you’re making the money a first-round draft pick makes).
Now, Darnold will be entering a system led by an offensive-minded head coach in Matt Rhule (the first NFL head coach Sam had was the defensive-minded Todd Bowles) and an up-and-coming great offensive coach in coordinator Joe Brady. Not to mention, he’ll have one of his old Jets targets by his side in Panthers wideout Robby Anderson.
While still young at 23 years old (24 in June), Darnold possesses an opportunity to start fresh with a team that could be on its way to a successful era.