In his first comments as a Carolina Panther, Sam Darnold spoke about his time and previous visions he had as a member of the New York Jets.
Having ditched Gang Green for Carolina blue, Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold took a moment to reflect on his offseason journey in his first statements as a member of the NFC South.
Darnold arrives in Charlotte after three seasons as the New York Jets’ franchise man, coming through in a trade for a trio of draft picks last week. Per Carolina team reporter Darin Gantt, Darnold felt both “relief and excitement” upon learning of the fateful deal.
“There’s been so much uncertainty this offseason, not knowing what your future was going to look like, that was hard,” Darnold said. “But now that I’m in Charlotte, I’m excited, and yeah, I guess I am kind of relieved to be here.”
Last Monday’s deal ended a turbulent offseason saga for Darnold, who has undoubtedly seen the countless mock drafts that have BYU passer Zach Wilson inheriting his role as the Jets’ franchise quarterback.
It’s a role Darnold thought he would hold for a long time, but the dream came to an end after three seasons and 38 games. The Jets were 13-25 in Darnold’s starts, with Darnold enduring a roller-coaster career defined by endless turnover in both the starting lineup and coaching staff.
“I imagined I was going to be the franchise quarterback of the New York Jets for a long time…once you realize that the team that drafted you is moving on, it stings a little bit.”
With the trade completed and his New York ledger finalized, Darnold enters a situation that will provide welcome stability for his football career. The Panthers are coming off a five-win season but enjoyed some strong progress under second-year head coach Matt Rhule. Though All-Pro rusher Christian McCaffrey was lost to an injury in the early going, all but three of the Panthers’ 11 losses came by one possession.
Darnold will possibly compete with incumbent thrower Teddy Bridgewater for the starting quarterback job, although reports indicate that Bridgewater may be traded before training camp. Darnold previously collaborated with Bridgewater during the preseason of his rookie year in 2018 before the Jets dealt Bridgwater to New Orleans at the end of training camp.
The USC alum will also reunite with receiver Robby Anderson, his favorite target during his first two seasons in New York. Anderson posted career-bests with 95 receptions for 1,096 yards last season with Carolina, his first after four years in green.
“The culture that’s being set here is amazing. That’s probably the part that intrigues me the most about this,” Darnold said of Carolina in Gantt’s report. “To go from being unwanted to being wanted is huge. Getting that news that you’re going to be traded, of a team saying, ‘Hey, we didn’t want you,” for whatever reason, is hard. But right now, I feel great about it, and I’m excited to get here, and get started.”
Darnold won’t have to wait long to show the Jets what they’re potentially missing. New York will make an octennial visit to Charlotte on a date to be determined.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags
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