The Panthers have a lot of money tied up in Sam Darnold, and they’re likely stuck with him. It’s not entirely his fault he hit free agency though – Hasson Reddick should’ve taken the risk when it was presented to him.
The “nfl offseason moves 2021” is a blog article that discusses the reasons why the Panthers should blame Sam Darnold for Hasson Reddick hitting free agency.
The Carolina Panthers are coming off a dreadful 2021 NFL season. Despite making a major move for a new starting quarterback, the club arguably underperformed this past season as compared to 2020.
When healthy, Sam Darnold battled injuries and was inefficient. This resulted in P.J. Walker and Cam Newton splitting time at quarterback for the most of Carolina’s season — a scenario the Panthers clearly weren’t anticipating going into the season.
This offseason, the Panthers are at a fork in the road. They still haven’t found a suitable franchise quarterback. It’s a requirement that’s trickling down to the rest of the roster. Despite being one of Carolina’s finest defensive players in 2021, standout pass rusher Hasson Reddick is being permitted to test the free market this spring (per The Charlotte Observer). This predicament can readily be linked back to their blunder with Sam Darnold.
Hasson Reddick, a star pass rusher, will be permitted to leave the team in free agency.
Mike Comer/Getty Images/Haason Reddick
Despite having a 12-sack season with the Arizona Cardinals the year before, Reddick had few suitors during free agency last summer. The Panthers were able to jump in and sign him to a team-friendly one-year contract as a result of this. Because of their Temple roots, head coach Matt Rhule and Reddick clicked.
Carolina’s signing of Reddick turned out to be a dream come true. He has 11.0 sacks, 18 quarterback hits, 12 tackles for a loss, and two forced fumbles in his first season. With Reddick, Brian Burns, and Derrick Brown leading the charge, the Panthers had one of the strongest defensive lines in the NFL. Carolina could always trust on their defense to make some plays, no matter how terrible the offense was at times.
On paper, Carolina seems to be focused on keeping Burns and Reddick together for the next several years. Instead, the top pass rusher will be free to pursue other opportunities. The team’s poor cap space management is mostly to blame for this situation.
Sam Darnold owes the Panthers a team-high $18.8 million in salary.
Sam Darnold will count $18.8 million against the Panthers cap next season#NEvsCAR
— Mike Renner (@PFF_Mike) November 7, 2021
This summer, the Panthers have a healthy amount of cap space available – $ 23.9 million to be precise.
The uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball, on the other hand, is compelling them to let Reddick go. If Carolina wants to compete effectively in 2022, it will need to make multiple changes to the offensive line, wide receiver room, and quarterback position.
Darnold is at the heart of the problem. Not only did he struggle in his first season with the Panthers, but his cap space is set to soar to $18.8 million in 2022, which is a team-high. Carolina’s management staff made the mistake of picking up Darnold’s fifth-year option before seeing him play a single snap for the Panthers.
The Panthers’ most expensive player is now someone they’re seeking to replace. That’s not a pleasant situation to be in. If Darnold and his $18 million salary charge weren’t on the roster, the Panthers could easily rationalize re-signing Reddick to shore up their defensive line.
The Panthers need to make a quarterback change.
According to Panthers GM Scott Fitterer, the quarterback job will be vacant next season.
Whether it’s Darnold or another quarterback, someone has to take the next step, according to him.
— Jonathan M Alexander (@jonmalexander) March 2, 2022
When analyzing Carolina’s summer preparations, it’s also important to remember that Darnold must be replaced. It’s possible that a rookie replacement will be selected in the first round. It might also attempt to make a major splash in free agency or the trade market with a veteran.
The Panthers cannot justify bringing back one of their top defensive starters since the latter two possibilities would need a large amount of financial room.
Pro Football Reference provided all stats.
The Eagles are changing things up and targeting free-agent linebacker De’Vondre Campbell.
- free agent centers 2021