Panthers' Updated Depth Chart, Salary Cap After Sam Darnold Trade

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIApril 5, 2021

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The New York Jets have traded quarterback Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for a sixth-round draft pick in 2021 and second- and fourth-round draft selections in 2022, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Here's a look at how the Panthers' projected offensive depth chart and 2021 salary cap look following the move.

Panthers Offensive Depth Chart Projection

QB: Sam Darnold, Teddy Bridgewater

RB: Christian McCaffrey, Trenton Cannon

WR 1: DJ Moore

WR 2: Robby Anderson

WR 3: David Moore, Brandon Zylstra

TE: Ian Thomas, Dan Arnold

LT: Greg Little, Cameron Erving

LG: Dennis Daley, Mike Horton

C: Matt Paradis, Sam Tecklenburg

RG: Pat Elflein, John Miller

RT: Taylor Moton, Trenton Scott

Depth chart info provided by Ourlads and Over the Cap.

Panthers Salary Cap

Before the move, the Panthers were listed as having $20,057,678 in 2021 salary cap space, good enough for the eighth-most in the NFL, per Over the Cap.

Darnold's cap number is listed at $9,794,266 for 2021, per Over the Cap. However, the Jets are assuming $5,019,581 in dead money, meaning that the Panthers are taking him on a one-year, $4,774,685 contract. That puts Carolina's current cap number at $15,282,993.

Carolina must also decide if it wants to pick up Darnold's fifth-year option for $18,858,000 by May 3, per Spotrac. Per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the Panthers will be exercising the option to keep Darnold under team control through 2022.

Darnold will assuredly be the team's starter ahead of Teddy Bridgewater at this point.

The big question now is what the Darnold trade means for the Panthers in the draft.

Trading for Darnold puts quarterback out of the conversation at No. 8 overall, and Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus posited that the Panthers may be hoping to land either Oregon left tackle Penei Sewell or Northwestern left tackle Rashawn Slater instead.

Carolina could also opt to trade down to a quarterback-needy team if the price is right and recoup more assets to rebuild on both sides of the ball.

As for the Panthers' 2021 offense, Darnold now reunites with former Jets wideout Robby Anderson, who had some success with the ex-Jets signal-caller when the two were in New Jersey:

Will Bryan @Pantherstatsguy

In 2018-19, Sam Darnold to Robby Anderson on the Jets<br><br>88 completions<br>88.5 comp pct<br>1341 yds<br>11 TDs<br>21 comps of 20+ yards pic.twitter.com/U7wXwhFtwS

Darnold should have the best weapons of his career around him with Anderson, wideout D.J. Moore and running back Christian McCaffrey. He also has a talented coaching staff in place, especially with ex-LSU passing game coordinator and current Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady calling the shots.

The Jets signal-caller also gets a fresh start sans ex-New York head coach Adam Gase:

Warren Sharp @SharpFootball

just last year...<br><br>a time when the NFL is more aware than ever about the value of the forward pass...<br><br>and with 68-yr old Frank Gore as RB1...<br><br>no team called more early down runs when trailing than Gase did...<br><br>and he had a top-4 run rate on 2nd &amp; 10... with bottom-5 efficiency

If the Jets go offensive tackle at No. 8, he could have some tremendous bookends blocking for him as well with Taylor Moton at right tackle and Sewell or Slater if Carolina goes that route.

Ultimately, this is a shrewd move for the Panthers, as they would have needed to give up far more assets to trade up and put themselves in position for a highly touted quarterback.

Instead, they're taking a flier on the No. 2 overall pick of the 2018 draft in Darnold, who will now get a fresh start with the Panthers.


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.