NEW YORK – Sam Darnold was the face of a hopeful franchise, a promising playmaker who might just be the New York Jets’ quarterback for at least the next decade.
It took only three years for that dream to fizzle and fade into disappointment.
Darnold was traded Monday to the Carolina Panthers, ending months of speculation and a stint in New York that was marked by a few flashes of brilliance, inconsistent play and unfortunate injuries.
And with the rebooting Jets holding the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, they’re likely moving on to another young signal-caller — perhaps BYU's Zach Wilson or Ohio State's Justin Fields — who they hope will deliver the team back to respectability.
New York acquired a sixth-round pick in this year's draft and second- and fourth-round picks in the 2022 draft. That gives them 21 selections over the next two drafts, with seven of them coming in the first two rounds.
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old Darnold gets a much-needed change of scenery and a new opportunity in Carolina, where he’ll also be reunited with wide receiver Robby Anderson. The quarterback could also quickly seek some measure of revenge this season when the Panthers host the Jets.
“I like his toughness,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said. "He can move in the pocket and make plays down the field with his arm. All of those really stood out about him. I think in this offense with Matt Rhule and Joe Brady, that he can really take that next step.”
Darnold was considered an untouchable player on the Jets' roster in his second season, but it became clear they could move on when GM Joe Douglas backed off that stance in March. Douglas praised Darnold, but acknowledged he would answer calls from teams interested in acquiring him.