Sam Darnold has a very shaky grip on the Panthers’ first QB job

Sam Darnold’s job as the Carolina Panthers’ starting quarterback comes with those two little words anyone in his position dreads hearing.

“At the moment.”

“Sam is No. 1 right now,” Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said on the Pro Football Talk podcast. “He has every opportunity to use it and run with it. We hope he is doing well.”

However, hope is not a strategy. In other words, Darnold is the Panthers quarterback – ahead of head coach Matt Rhule’s old Temple connection PJ Walker as well as rookie third-round pick Matt Corral – until they find a better option. Unless they don’t.

“The only thing we want to do is stabilize the position. It went up and down, up and down,” Fitterer said. “We’ll see how it goes. [Sam] is in the lead at the moment but until someone really owns that position and gives us a chance to win it will always be winnable.

Sam Darnold is the Panthers’ starting quarterback for “right now.”
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Could Corral really win the job? If he “gives us the best chance of winning,” Fitterer said.

The Panthers’ decision to trade a 2023 third-round pick to move up from the fourth round to the third of the 2022 NFL Draft to pick up Corral seemed to signal the end of interest in trading a veteran starter like Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo. After all, the Panthers can’t keep emptying the coffers with draft picks — they traded three to the Jets for Darnold — trying to find the right quarterback.

However, not that fast. Mechanic left the door open a crack.

If the Panthers traded for Mayfield — which would almost certainly require the Browns to eat a portion of his $18.8 million fully guaranteed salary — they would be #1 and #3 overall pick (Darnold) in the 2018 draft have the list.

Matt Korral

“I would say quarterback or any other position,” Fitterer said, “if there’s someone out there that we think can help us, we’re going to keep our minds open. We put the money aside to take various steps and that was important to us. We want that flexibility, but if someone can help us regardless of the position, we’ll eventually make a move.”

The Panthers started last season 3-0 before rebounding from Christian McCaffrey’s injury and offensive issues that derailed Darnold and the season.

“I thought he played the first three games well,” Fitterer said. “When Sam has time, he delivers the ball [and] looks good. … It’s a tough position to play, and it’s not just up to the quarterback, it’s up to us.” Sam Darnold has a very shaky grip on the Panthers’ first QB job


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