Final Trade Details:
Jets receive: 2021 sixth round pick, 2022 second round pick, 2022 fourth round pick
Panthers receive: Sam Darnold
The New York Jets traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. This trade will reshape the QB market, affecting multiple teams and players. So, who are the true winners and losers?
Winner: Sam Darnold
The biggest winner of the trade in my opinion is Sam Darnold. It was inevitable that he would be traded, and there could’ve been many teams interested. Luckily for Darnold, he went to the Carolina Panthers, who have an extremely talented supporting cast. Arguably the best RB in football, Christian McCaffrey will be returning in 2021 after injuries hindered him in 2020. Darnold will also be reunited with Robby Anderson, who was a top target for Darnold during their time in New York. The Panthers also have WR DJ Moore, who’s extremely talented and quietly has topped 1000 receiving yards the past two seasons. Sam Darnold is getting a second chance, and it will be with a good, young team that has plenty of potential.
Winner: New York Jets
The Jets are also clear winners. With the new coaching staff and shiny second overall pick, the Jets had to get rid of 2018 first round pick Sam Darnold. The Jets are rebuilding their franchise, and it was clear that Darnold would not be apart of that. By trading him, GM Joe Douglas will likely select either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson with the 2nd pick. Both Fields or Wilson will be an upgrade over Darnold at least fit-wise. The Jets got a pretty good haul of 3 picks over the next two years, which pushes their total number of draft picks to 21 for the 2021 and 2022 drafts. Unlike in the Adam Gase era, the Jets are locked and loaded to build their team through the draft.
Winner: QB Needy Teams
The Panthers were heavily involved in the QB market this offseason. It was expected that they would potentially trade for a quarterback or select one at the 8th pick. Now that they have Darnold, the Panthers will fade away out of the quarterback market. This will make it much easier for a team like the Broncos, Patriots or Washington Football Team to nab a QB whether it’s through the trade market or draft.
Loser: Teddy Bridgewater
The Teddy Bridgewater era is likely over in Carolina. He didn’t play well enough to keep his job, and the Panthers openly looked for a quarterback all offseason. It’s no secret that a move like this was coming, but that still doesn’t soften the blow for Bridgewater, who has now lost his job as the starter. For Teddy Bridgewater, he’ll be looking for a new home, and it’s unknown how many teams will be interested. For QB needy teams, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson are better options even despite the cost. I even expect Jimmy Garoppolo to receive more interest than Teddy. To make things worse, Bridgewater still has two years remaining on his contract and will be due $37,000,000. That contract makes Bridgewater even less desirable for teams in need of a quarterback. He’ll either be traded, or outright cut altogether.
Loser: Deshaun Watson
It seems like teams are getting fed up by the Texans’ stubbornness to trade Deshaun Watson. Teams are getting impatient and opting to look elsewhere for a QB. The 49ers and Panthers, two teams heavily interested in Deshaun Watson, both made blockbuster moves to either trade for a quarterback or put themselves in a position to draft one. For Watson, it’s looking more and more like he’ll end up remaining with the Texans for the 2021 season.
We’ll See: Carolina Panthers
Many people think the Panthers overpaid for Darnold, however, if he does turn out to be their franchise quarterback, it’ll be well worth it. They’ve invested three draft picks and $23 million of cap hit over the next two years to trade for Darnold. The Panthers will be hoping to tap into Sam Darnold’s potential and develop him into a quality starter. It’s unclear if Darnold will be the future at quarterback for Carolina, but we can’t call them winners or losers until at least after the 2021 season.
Photo: Winslow Townson