Panthers ‘intrigued’ by Justin Fields?

The Carolina Panthers seemingly discovered their beginning quarterback for the 2021 season, pulling off a commerce with the New York Jets for Sam Darnold. Whereas the previous No. 3 choose will get a recent begin this yr in Carolina, it appears his arrival doesn’t rule out a draft-day shock.

It’s no secret that the Panthers coveted an improve over Teddy Bridgewater this spring. They provided the No. 8 choose in a commerce bundle for Matthew Stafford that was rejected. Group proprietor David Tepper additionally made a powerful push for a Deshaun Watson commerce. The entrance workplace obtained aggressive with its pursuit, however sexual assault and harassment allegations towards Watson derailed any hopes for a deal.

Carolina in the end settled for Darnold, sending its 2022 second- and fourth-round picks together with a 2021 sixth-round choice for the 23-year-old quarterback. Whereas Darnold is excited to swimsuit up on this offense, the Panthers haven’t closed the door on drafting a quarterback for the long run.

In line with The Athletic’s Joseph Individual, the Panthers are intrigued by Ohio State star Justin Fields. He’s the one quarterback who’s catching the membership’s consideration, with the entrance workplace reportedly not enthralled with Mac Jones or Trey Lance.

It’s potential that is posturing by Carolina’s basic supervisor. This info may very well be a strategic leak used to sway one other membership to commerce up with Carolina, rising a suggestion for the No. 8 total choose. The New England Patriots or Chicago Bears would possibly view Fields because the second- or third-best quarterback within the 2021 draft class and be decided to land him.

Alternatively, the Panthers could genuinely like Fields’ match of their offense and really feel assured that his ceiling is greater than what Darnold provides.

Darnold is receiving the good thing about the doubt so far in his NFL profession. He confirmed flashes in his rookie season and appeared to take a step ahead in 2019, however every part got here crashing down this previous yr. Nevertheless, a lot of that’s excused due to the underwhelming supporting forged round him on the sphere and the presence of head coach Adam Gase.

Even when accounting for these components, the numbers make it unattainable to not query whether or not he generally is a high quality starter.

  • Sam Darnold stats (2018-20): 13-25 report, 59.8% completion price, 45-39 TD-INT ratio, 6.6 ypa and 78.6 passer score

These aren’t the form of numbers that justify an $18.858 million wage. If Carolina workouts Darnold’s fifth-year choice, a choice that should be made on or earlier than Might 3, that 2022 wage turns into absolutely assured. It will be an overpay based mostly on three years of movie and would restrict this membership’s cap house.

Fields is a greater prospect than Darnold was coming into the NFL Draft. The knocks on his anticipation and talent to progress via reads are overblown. He’s probably the most correct quarterback on this yr’s class, is extra superior than Lance and provides much better bodily instruments than Jones.

With Jones anticipated to land at No. 3 to the San Francisco 49ers, there’s an excellent probability Fields is accessible for Carolina. He provides the upside to be an excellent quarterback, within the mould of a Dak Prescott. That’s the caliber of franchise quarterback the Panthers need.

Darnold may enter the summer time because the Panthers’ beginning quarterback, with Fields allowed to compete for the job. Given his skills, it doubtless wouldn’t be lengthy earlier than Fields took the sphere on this explosive offense.

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