It wasn’t a particularly cheap decision either. Darnold is set to make a guaranteed $18.9 next season, which isn’t great news considering he’s coming off a season in which he threw for only 2,527 yards in 12 games, along with nine touchdown passes and 13 interceptions.
With the benefit of hindsight, Carolina’s early commitment to Darnold for 2022 seems foolish. Even in the moment, the move had its doubters, considering Darnold’s performance in his first three NFL seasons.
Asked today why the organization locked in Darnold’s option so quickly, Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said it was because they envisioned him being their starting quarterback for more than one season when they acquired him.
“Bringing him here to be the starter, knowing that if he had a great year he’d be a high-priced guy [in free agency],” Rhule said. “If he’s our starter at that number ($18.9 million), that’s low-end starter money. That was a decision made, a collective decision.”
Matt Rhule was asked why the team felt compelled to sign Sam Darnold’s fifth-year option as quickly as they did.
Here’s his response: pic.twitter.com/yg0S7iciP8
— John Ellis (@1PantherPlace) January 10, 2022
Rhule didn’t exactly project a massive amount of confidence and conviction in that answer either. Deep down, he has to know his team took a gamble and it failed miserably.
There’s always the hope that Darnold picks up his play in 2022, but with four years of evidence to go on, it looks like he is what he is as an NFL quarterback.
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