Both teams announced the deal Monday. In return for Darnold, the Jets received three picks: a sixth-round choice in this month’s NFL Draft and a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2022.
With Darnold gone, the Jets now are expected to take a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the April 29 draft. New York is projected to select BYU’s Zach Wilson, who has met virtually with the Jets multiple times.
If the Jets do pick a quarterback at No. 2 overall, they would become the first franchise in the Common Draft Era — since 1967 — to take two quarterbacks inside the top three over a four-year span, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
“I want to publicly acknowledge the commitment, dedication, and professionalism Sam displayed while with the Jets,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said in a statement Monday. “He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet.
“While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him. We thank Sam for all of his work on behalf of this organization and wish him well as he continues his career.”
Darnold has one year left on his rookie contract. The Panthers must decide on his fifth-year option for 2022 by May 3; the predetermined amount is a fully guaranteed $ 18.8 million.
The 23-year-old Darnold was due to count $ 9.8 million against the Jets’ salary cap, according to Spotrac, but the team will get $ 4.8 million in relief and a $ 5 million dead cap charge for 2021.
In three seasons with the Jets, Darnold posted a 13-25 record as a starter. He completed 59.8% of his throws and recorded 45 touchdown passes and 39 interceptions.
The Panthers have been searching for an upgrade at quarterback since the end of last season. Carolina reportedly offered current starter Teddy Bridgewater and the No. 8 overall pick to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, who eventually was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Panthers signed Bridgewater to a three-year, $ 63 million contract last year. He is set to count $ 22.9 million against the cap in 2021.
In his first season in Carolina, Bridgewater notched 3,733 passing yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He added 279 rushing yards and five scores on the ground.