The Panthers season finally came to a close on Sunday, as the team lost their seventh straight game to finish the season 5-12. After returning from Tampa, the players met with the media for the final time yesterday, and one of the big talking points was quarterback Sam Darnold. Both his head coach Matt Rhule, and GM Scott Fitterer stood up for the maligned QB, saying that he will be back in 2022 and that picking up his 5th-year option wasn’t a mistake. They better hope not, because that 5th-year option will cost the Panthers over $18 million on the books for next season, and with over 20 players set to hit free agency, that money could be used in other areas. What is unclear as of this moment, is what will Darnold’s role be? Will he be the clear-cut starter? Will the Panthers bring in the competition via a trade or free agency? Will Matt Rhule draft him a franchise quarterback, to cement his standing in the NFL? Nobody knows as of today, but for more on the situation, Panthers beat writer for the Charlotte Observer, joined Wilson & Norfleet today and had this to say on the topic:
“Sam would be best suited coming in at a backup role”
Ellis compares the situation to what Jameis Winston did last year sitting behind Drew Brees, before taking over this season, before a season-ending ACL injury. One way or another, Darnold is set to be a Carolina Panther next year, it is up to Matt Rhule to figure out in what capacity they can get the most value out of him, on and off the field.