Report: Sam Darnold to Be Panthers' Backup QB Behind Baker Mayfield After Injury

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVNovember 15, 2022

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JANUARY 02: Sam Darnold #14 of the Carolina Panthers looks to throw the ball in the second quarter of the game against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on January 02, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Sam Darnold (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Sam Darnold could be in line to play for the first time this season when the Carolina Panthers take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 11.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported quarterback PJ Walker will be sidelined with a high ankle sprain, which prompted head coach Steve Wilks to say Baker Mayfield will start.

Yet Darnold is expected to suit up as the backup after missing the first 10 games with his own high ankle sprain. If Mayfield struggles, the Panthers could look toward the USC product under center.

It should be noted that Darnold hasn't lived up to the expectations that came with being selected No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in the 2018 draft.

The 25-year-old has completed 59.8 percent of his 1,625 career throws with a lackluster 54-52 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He threw more INTs than TDs each of the past two years.

Darnold is coming off a 2021 season in which he ranked 29th in ESPN's Total QBR and received a poor 54.7 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. It was his first campaign in Carolina after three with New York.

His future with the Panthers first came into question when the front office selected fellow quarterback Matt Corral in the third round of this year's draft, and then the Mayfield trade in July ensured an even more difficult path to playing time.

Ahead of training camp, Darnold said he was ready to fight for the top spot on the depth chart.

"It's always fun to compete and to be able to have someone to compete with," he told reporters. "At the same time, in our eyes, we're both the starting quarterback for this team right now, and that's how we're going to view it."

Trade rumors started to pop up as Mayfield surged ahead in the competition, in part because Darnold carried a $18.9 million salary-cap hit in the final year of his rookie contract, which is a significant amount to pay a backup. Meanwhile, Corral suffered a season-ending foot injury in preseason.

Yet the ankle injury delayed the situation, and now he will be the team's backup with Walker sidelined.