Carolina Panthers Flip Sam Darnold As New Starting Quarterback

Carolina Panthers Flip Sam Darnold As New Starting Quarterback

Carolina will have a third different starting quarterback in as many weeks when they face Denver in Week 12

CHARLOTTE — At the revolving door known as the quarterback position for the Carolina Panthers, Sam Darnold will become the third different starter in as many weeks this Sunday against the Denver Broncos at Bank of America Stadium.

The team made the announcement Tuesday after interim head coach Steve Wilks told his quarterbacks he would go with Darnold over Baker Mayfield, who had two interceptions and failed to get the Panthers (3-8) into the innings. diagonals during Sunday’s 13-3 loss against the Baltimore Ravens.

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It will be Darnold’s first start in the regular season since a Jan. 9 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to close out the 2021 season.

Wilks made the decision after evaluating Mayfield’s performance against Baltimore and learning that PJ Walker would not be ready to return Sunday from a high ankle sprain.

Mayfield began the season as the starter, after taking the starting job during an open training camp contest against Darnold. Sunday’s was his first start since Week 5, when he sprained a high ankle during a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. He replaced Walker, who went 2-3 before suffering his own sprain in a Week 10 win against the Atlanta Falcons.

Next Sunday will be the first start for Sam Darnold in the current regular season. Getty Images

Mayfield amassed a 20.4 Total Quarterback Rating against the Ravens, giving him an NFL-worst 17.8 cumulative among qualified players. His 57.8 completion percentage is next to last in the league.

Darnold went 4-7 as the starter last season, posting a Total QBR of 38.6 that left him ahead only of the New York Jets’ Zach Wilson (33.4) and the Chicago Bears’ Justin Fields (31.4). .

Mayfield was the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, where Darnold was selected third. The Cleveland Browns traded Mayfield to Carolina in July after acquiring Deshaun Watson early in the offseason. After selecting Wilson with the second overall pick in the 2021 Draft, the Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers.

Wilks has said on several occasions that the Panthers want to take a look at Darnold, who, like Mayfield, is in the final year of his rookie contract.

The decision to go with Darnold over Mayfield also impacts what the Panthers owe him for his trade from Cleveland. Mayfield has played 58 percent of the chances thus far, and would need to hit 70 percent for the Browns to get a 2024 fourth-round pick as payoff. If he doesn’t reach that number, that pick becomes a fifth-round pick.

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The Panthers, who would have the second overall pick in the 2023 Draft if the season ended today, are expected to select a quarterback in the first round next year as part of what is expected to be a strong quarterback field. They would consider a veteran like Darnold to help develop that player.

Darnold recently said he learned a lot about being a backup while recovering from a high ankle sprain that landed him on injured reserve.

“You learn a lot just by watching,” he said. “There’s a lot to learn in terms of just walking around the complex, learning from the other guys. There’s a lot you can learn when you don’t have the stress of starting. But, at the end of the day, I want to be out there. [jugando]”.

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