After spending the first three seasons of his NFL career with the New York Jets, Sam Darnold is getting a fresh start with the Carolina Panthers in the 2021 NFL season. The Panthers acquired him via trade earlier in the offseason in hopes that they could turn his career around. After all, he's only 24 years old and could have a lot of football left ahead of him. Now, the young signal-caller is projected to have a career year in Carolina.
FanDuel Sportsbook has listed the over/under for Darnold's passing yards this season at 3,850.5. Even with an extra game on the schedule this year, considering how he hasn't even hit the 3,100-yard mark once yet in his career, it's clear that some see Darnold's move to a new team paying off this year.
Sam Darnold Panthers News
The truth is that if Darnold does have a breakout season with the Panthers, it shouldn't be that surprising since they've already surrounded him with a better team compared to what the Jets did for him.
For starters, Darnold was sacked 35 times in 12 games last season (2.9 per game) — the ninth-highest total in the NFL. Had he played in all 16 contests while being sacked at that rate, he was on pace to finish within the Top 5. On the other hand, the Panthers allowed 2.2 sacks per game (T-16th) in 2020, which means Darnold will have more time to throw the ball and rack up passing yards. It should also keep him relatively healthy. After all, Darnold has yet to play every game in an NFL season and a big part of that is because the Jets allowed him to be sacked 98 times through his first three campaigns.
When it comes to pass-catching options, Carolina has also provided Darnold was several quality weapons. D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson — who both had over 1,000 receiving yards in 2020 — are back for another year. Since nobody even reached 700 receiving yards on the Jets last season, that's already an improvement for Darnold. That's not even to mention how Carolina also has a promising rookie wideout in the form of 2021 second-round pick Terrace Marshall Jr., who should open up the field even more for Darnold.
While the situation looks promising for Darnold and the Panthers, the team is far from a lock for the playoffs just yet. Carolina is currently favored to miss the 2021 postseason at -370 odds, according to FanDuel Sportsbook. Still, a breakout season for Darnold would go a long way in changing those odds for the better.
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