After being selected with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold has had a turbulent career with the New York Jets and now Carolina Panthers.
The jury was largely still out on whether the former USC prospect could be a viable NFL starter heading into this season.
Did the Jets put him in a difficult position to succeed?
Would a change of scenery give Darnold the chance to rewrite the narrative on his career?
Darnold got off to a strong start in Carolina, leading the team to a 3-0 record.
Not only was he playing effectively in the pocket, but he made several plays with his legs as well.
He scored five rushing touchdowns in the first three weeks, and this new wrinkle gave Carolina fans hope he was turning things around.
However, it’s been a struggle since the first month of the year, and Darnold now finds himself on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
With Sam Darnold out four to six weeks due to a shoulder injury, the Panthers now add Cam Newton to a QB room that includes P.J. Walker and Matt Barkley.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 11, 2021
It didn’t seem possible just a few weeks ago, but it appears as if there might be a very real chance that Darnold has played his final snap with the Panthers.
We’ll take a look at three teams who could be interested in acquiring Darnold in 2022 if the franchise opts to go in a different direction.
3. Baltimore Ravens
It’s hard to imagine that Darnold’s next NFL stop will provide him with an immediate, unquestioned chance to be the starter.
Regardless of whether his lack of success has been due to team factors, or personal ones, his record speaks for itself.
He’s 17-30, with one team already having given up on him, and his current team may be in the process of doing just the same.
Darnold’s next stop will likely view him as an insurance policy.
The Baltimore Ravens might have some interest in bringing him in, considering their backup quarterback spot is currently being manned by Tyler Huntley.
Darnold would have the benefit of being involved with one of the best organizations in the league.
Additionally, Baltimore might want to highlight Darnold’s athleticism that he flashed earlier this season.
Their offense is already setup to do that with Lamar Jackson, so it might be a good option for the team and for the player.
Carolina Panthers operating as if Sam Darnold will be out for the season while giving Cam Newton a chance to win the 2022 starting job, per sources:https://t.co/N3Ql7rlI6o
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 14, 2021
2. Tennessee Titans
Speaking of AFC playoff-caliber teams with uncertain backup quarterback situations, the Tennessee Titans certainly fit that mold.
The Titans successfully managed to rehabilitate Tannehill’s career after his up and down experiences with the Miami Dolphins.
They might feel like they can do the same with Darnold.
He would benefit from rubbing elbows with a quarterback who also had trouble getting his career kicked off, but ended up persevering.
Assuming Derrick Henry is able to make it back from a foot ailment, Tennessee would always figure to be a run-first team anyway, which alleviates pressure for whomever is under center.
1. Green Bay Packers
There is one potential NFL franchise that might consider bringing Darnold in with a chance to win their 2022 starting job; the Green Bay Packers.
Allegedly, this very well could be Aaron Rodgers’ final season with the team, which will leave the team with a big decision to make in the offseason.
Despite the drama surrounding Rodgers and his future with the team, Green Bay is still 8-2, which would take them out of the running for a high draft selection.
Their options would seem to be squarely between current reserve Jordan Love, and a player they brought to compete with him.
Love stepped in for Rodgers in Week 9 against the Kansas City Chiefs, and looked overmatched.
That’s not to say he will always perform that way, but the Packers are probably now more concerned about their future than they were going into the season.
With a strong showing in camp, it’s not unreasonable to think Darnold could win the job in Green Bay in 2022.