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Sam Darnold traded to Panthers from Jets: What is future for Teddy Bridgewater? Jets now locks to draft Zach Wilson?

Big NFL trade on Monday as the Carolina Panthers have acquired QB Sam Darnold from the Jets for three draft picks.
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In the 2018 NFL Draft, the New York Jets selected USC quarterback Sam Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick, which in hindsight was a major mistake when Gang Green could have had Josh Allen (No. 6 to Buffalo) or Lamar Jackson (No. 32 to Baltimore). The Darnold era was largely a flop with the Jets, and it's now over as he has been traded to the Carolina Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. The Panthers currently have an NFL win total of 7.5 for the 2021 season.

It was no secret this offseason that the Panthers were being very aggressive to upgrade at quarterback over 2020 starter Teddy Bridgewater. Carolina badly wanted Deshaun Watson, but his off-the-field troubles probably helped turn the Panthers' attention to Darnold even though his 72.7 QB rating was the lowest in the NFL last season among 35 qualified passers.

Darnold has a 13-25 record (14-24 against the spread) in his NFL career with 45 touchdown passes and 39 picks. While that record is terrible, also consider that the Jets were 0-10 SU in the 10 games he missed.

Does this trade mean Bridgewater will be shipped out? According to Spotrac, he has two years and $39 million remaining on his contract with the Panthers, including $10 million fully guaranteed in 2021. A release after June 1 would mean a $15 million cap hit this year for Carolina but $8 million saved and another $5 million dead cap hit in 2022 but $21 million saved. Will it affect what Carolina might do with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft?

This 100 percent locks in that the Jets will be taking a quarterback at No. 2 overall and that QB is widely assumed to be BYU's Zach Wilson. He is a heavy -900 favorite at William Hill Sportsbook to go second. 

Carolina, incidentally, will host the Jets this season. The SportsLine Projection Model (below) has the Panthers getting worse starting Darnold over Bridgewater.

CAROLINA               WIN      WIN%      DIVISION      PLAYOFF     CONF     CHAMP
w/ Bridgewater 7.5 46.9% 3.6% 17.4% 0.6% 0.1%
w/ Darnold 6.3 39.4% 0.9% 6.2% 0.2% 0.0%
Difference -1.2 -7.5% -2.7% -11.2% -0.4% -0.1%

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Matt Severance
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