The Panthers had the option of selecting quarterbacks Justin Fields and Mac Jones at No. 8 overall last week, but elected to go with cornerback Jaycee Horn.
As head coach Matt Rhule explained it, the club felt like it was better sticking with quarterback Sam Darnold and drafting a piece for the secondary rather than doubling down at QB.
So with Darnold in line to be Carolina’s starter in 2021, General Manager Scott Fitterer said in a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio that he wants the former No. 3 pick to essentially hit the reset button on his career.
“We went out and traded for Sam because we saw the talent on tape. We think we can help him,” Fitterer said. “We want him to kind of just flush what’s happened. He’s only 23 years old. He played in a big media market, high-round pick. Just come here, let the players down here help you out. We surrounded him with a lot of good talent at receiver, we have the best running back in football, we’re going to have a really strong offensive line, and we’ve added to our defense. All of that plays together.
“He doesn’t just have to do it by himself. He just has to be Sam and work with [offensive coordinator] Joe [Brady], work with Sean Ryan, our quarterbacks coach. Don’t try to make the big plays, don’t try to go outside of himself. Just play football. Play it fast, play it loose and let the guys make plays with you.”
Darnold threw for 2,208 yards with nine touchdowns an 11 interceptions in 12 games last year for the Jets. After acquiring him for three draft picks, the Panthers will see this year if he can be better for a team in the NFC South.