Ten days ago, the New York Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. The trade will set up new opportunities for both sides. Darnold gets a fresh start in a new location. The Jets get a fresh start at quarterback, whoever it may be.
The question is who has won the trade. No one knows for sure right now. The Jets got some draft capital back as they can possibly use it to build around their next quarterback. The Panthers acquired a young quarterback in free fall with hopes to revive his career.
Let’s go look at each team’s situation before this trade.
New York Jets & Sam Darnold
The Jets are coming off a miserable 2-14 season, ending with the firing of head coach Adam Gase. Multiple events and occurrences mobbed a historically horrific for the Jets. But, that’s beside the point.
For New York, the goal of the 2020 season was to see Sam Darnold take that next step and be the franchise quarterback of the team. No one was expecting a playoff run but not 2-14 either.
Ultimately, Sam Darnold remains an unknown as a starting quarterback in this league. In 2020, he played 12 games, throwing for 2,208 yards with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions while completing 59.6 percent of his passes. It’s crystal clear that he took a step back in 2020. The question is: How significant was it? Obviously, the Jets felt that Darnold was too damaged and took a step back.
A high percentage of Jets fans thought a change of scenery was best for Sam Darnold. Popular sports pundits like Dan Orlovsky, Damien Woody, and Mel Kiper Jr. all thought that the Jets should’ve kept Darnold and all they had to do was build around him.
The Jets’ offensive line ranked near the bottom of the NFL in nearly every category. The team also suffered numerous injuries and saw a large number of receivers take the field early on.
Sure, lack of chemistry with receivers and their lack of skill were a part of Darnold’s demise in 2020. Darnold’s lack of durability could’ve also played Adam Gase’s stubbornness and lack of creativity with the playbook also play a role in Darnold’s demise. But, some of the fault needs to be put on Sam Darnold too.
Adam Gase is not out there controlling every throw Sam makes. Even with clean pockets, Darnold struggled to make the right reads and throws. Sometimes, he even ran out of the pocket with no pressure on him and he also took bad sacks. I digress.
As stated before, the Jets have the second overall pick and plenty of draft capital to build around their young quarterback.
Carolina Panthers + Teddy Bridgewater
In March 2020, the Carolina Panthers signed veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal. That’s franchise quarterback money for a journeyman. But, the Panthers took a risk paying him that kind of money. So far, it hasn’t worked.
In 2020, Bridgewater threw for 3,733 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions while accumulating a passer rating of 92.1. Clearly, Bridgewater’s 2020 season didn’t match his large contract.
Now, the Panthers have traded for Sam Darnold which naturally leaves Bridgewater’s roster spot in jeopardy.
Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said last week “We’re going to find the right place [for Bridgewater], whether it’s here or someplace else”.
The team also has given Teddy Bridgewater the opportunity to seek a trade and talk to other teams. Signs are pointing to his exit from Carolina.
Who Can Win This Trade?
For me, it’s possible that both teams can win this trade. I don’t believe this trade is one-sided at all. To me, it involves more than the draft capital received and Sam Darnold.
- Did the Jets make a mistake by not giving Sam Darnold another chance?
- Will/Did the Panthers build around Sam Darnold correctly?
- Did the Jets get enough draft capital in return?
- Will the Jets use the received draft capital correctly to build their team the right way?
For the trade to be victorious for both teams, Sam Darnold and the new franchise quarterback for the Jets both turn out to be successful as both teams build around them respectively.
For the trade to be victorious for the Jets, Sam Darnold does not pan out in Carolina and New York has fun with their new quarterback and builds around him.
In Carolina’s victory, Sam Darnold would have to pull a Ryan Tannehill and show the Jets what they missed out on. The Jets ruin another franchise quarterback yet again and fail to build around him. Or, the quarterback just simply doesn’t pan out.
If neither team comes away victorious, Sam Darnold can’t figure out and the Jets’ new quarterback fails.