Sam Darnold

Carolina Panthers
Quarterback #14
Carolina Panthers
Quarterback #14
Photo: Icon Sportswire

Sam Darnold News

Has competition from Corral

Darnold remains the Panthers' starting quarterback for now, but rookie third-rounder Matt Corral could get an opportunity to play early in his career if Darnold struggles this season, ESPN's David Newton reports.

Analysis: Darnold has not performed up to expectations since entering the league as the second pick four years ago. Even with his change of scenery joining the Panthers last season, Darnold completed under 60 percent of his passes for just nine touchdowns versus 13 interceptions in 12 games. He also lost a pair of fumbles. Although Carolina opting not to trade for Baker Mayfield signals some patience with their quarterback situation, Darnold now has Corral to watch in his rear-view mirror as he approaches the upcoming campaign.

May 1, 2022 4:00 PM EST

Still viewed as starter

Panthers offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said he views Darnold as his starting quarterback, though McAdoo also added, "that is something I shouldn't have said," per David Newton of

Analysis: The Panthers missed out on Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, but they could still make a move for Baker Mayfield or Jimmy Garoppolo, or else bring in an early draft pick to challenge Darnold. Ahead of the 2022 NFL Draft, it's only Darnold and P.J. Walker in the Carolina QB room for the start of the offseason program. Darnold has a guaranteed $18.9 million salary in 2022, the fifth and final year of his rookie contract.

Apr 19, 2022 10:48 AM EST

In the lead for top QB job

GM Scott Fitterer noted Friday that Darnold is currently "in the lead" for the Panthers' starting QB job, ESPN's David Newton reports.

Analysis: That said, less than a month ago Fitterer suggested that the job was "open'' but at this stage P.J. Walker is the only other signal caller on Carolina's roster. With that in mind, Fitterer indicated that the team intends to "add a lot of competition to (the QB) room" while adding he still hopes that Darnold can take the opportunity and run with it. It remains be seen if the Panthers bring in a veteran to compete with Darnold, elect to use a premium draft pick on a young QB, or both, but in the wake of a flurry of movement involvement involving several high-profile players at his position, Darnold, at least for now, remains atop a Carolina depth chart that has yet to be filled out.

Mar 25, 2022 12:21 PM EST

Turns it over twice

Darnold completed 29 of 42 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in Sunday's 41-17 loss to the Buccaneers. He also rushed eight times for 19 yards but lost a fumble.

Analysis: Darnold threw his first touchdown pass since Week 6 by finding tailback Chuba Hubbard for a two-yard score to cap Carolina's opening drive. While he'd later add to his tally with an impressive, 19-yard touchdown to Robby Anderson on a fourth-down play during the fourth quarter, Darnold subsequently coughed the ball up and was picked off. In truth, the 24-year-old's first season with the Panthers was marred by turnovers, as Darnold was intercepted 13 times and lost two fumbles in 12 games played. Compared to just nine touchdown passes and five rushing scores, most of which came over the first four weeks, Darnold's underwhelming totals coincided with diminishing returns. With Carolina picking up his fifth-year option prior to the campaign, however, Darnold is under contract for next season. Whether he ultimately remains the starter or not, his decline as this season unfolded dampens his stock's outlook as he now embarks on the offseason.

Jan 9, 2022 5:16 PM EST

Expected to start in Week 18

Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he expects Darnold to start Sunday against the Buccaneers, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: Darnold started in Sunday's Week 17 loss to the Saints and completed 17 of 26 passes for 132 yards and an interception. Rhule said that Cam Newton will be available once again after playing one offensive snap against New Orleans, and the 32-year-old's most likely path toward playing time is through red zone duties. However, Darnold should be in line to handle the majority of the snaps again.

Jan 3, 2022 9:17 AM EST

Turns it over twice

Darnold completed 17 of 26 passes for 132 yards and an interception in Sunday's 18-10 loss to the Saints. He also was sacked seven times and lost a fumble.

Analysis: Darnold led the Panthers to points on their first two drives, but his performance went downhill from there. The signal-caller was stripped deep in his own territory on Carolina's third offensive series, then took plenty more hits while struggling to move the ball beyond underneath completions. When trying to tie the game late, Darnold was intercepted on his final pass, capping another underwhelming showing. While it's encouraging that Darnold only made way for Cam Newton for one offensive snap, a five-yard rush by Newton in the second quarter, his display Sunday doesn't raise optimism over his stock heading into Week 18's finale versus the Buccaneers.

Jan 2, 2022 4:34 PM EST

Named as Week 17 starter

Darnold will start Sunday's game against the Saints, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: Coach Matt Rhule wouldn't comment on expectations for Week 18 in Tampa Bay, merely saying that Darnold will get the Week 17 start. Cam Newton may still get snaps, especially near the goal line, and the New Orleans defense hardly makes for a favorable matchup. Darnold struggled after replacing Newton in last week's loss to Tampa, completing 15 of 32 passes for 190 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions.

Dec 29, 2021 11:29 AM EST

Sees more action than Newton

Darnold (shoulder) completed 15 of 32 passes for 190 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in the Panthers' 32-6 loss to the Buccaneers on Sunday. He also rushed once for 11 yards and fumbled once but recovered.

Analysis: The embattled signal-caller saw his first action since Week 9 and ended up outpacing starter Cam Newton by 19 pass attempts overall. Coach Matt Rhule had indicated Darnold would see a fair share of snaps over the final three games, but his workload Sunday arguably exceeded initial projections for his Week 16 return. Neither Darnold nor Newton did anything to distinguish themselves in the ugly loss, however, and David Newton of reports that Rhule was non-committal about his starter for a Week 17 road divisional clash against the Saints following the game.

Dec 26, 2021 2:31 PM EST

Could reclaim starting job Week 17

Darnold (shoulder) is expected to enter Sunday's game against the Buccaneers within a few series in relief of Cam Newton, and he could supplant Newton as the team's starting quarterback for the final two contests of the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: After heading to injured reserve in early November with an incomplete fracture of his right shoulder, Darnold returned to practice this week and was officially activated Saturday. Though he started in each of Carolina's first nine games, Darnold will be eased back into the mix with a light role behind Newton, who has gone 0-4 through his first four turns as the Panthers' starter. Given that the 32-year-old Newton is on an expiring deal and hasn't made a strong case to be part of Carolina's plans entering 2022, the organization could be incentivized to hand the starting job back to Darnold, who is a virtual lock to be on the roster next season after having his fully guaranteed $18.86 million fifth-year team option picked up last spring. How much Darnold plays Sunday will likely be determined based on how he fares in initial series in place of Newton, who will also have a chance to retain the starting job heading into Week 17 with a strong showing against Tampa Bay.

Dec 26, 2021 6:28 AM EST

Off of injured reserve

The Panthers activated Darnold (shoulder) from injured reserve Saturday, Darin Gantt of the team's official site reports.

Analysis: As expected, Darnold is back on the active roster after participating in practice the past two weeks. In his first game action since Week 9, he's slated to back up Cam Newton, but Darnold will be a candidate to get snaps at some point, whether it's Sunday against the Buccaneers and/or in the Panthers' final two games of the campaign after that.

Dec 25, 2021 1:14 PM EST

Should get snaps off the bench

Cam Newton will start Sunday's game against Tampa Bay, but coach Matt Rhule said Darnold also will get playing time, with the 24-year-old QB cleared for contact after an MRI and CT scan this Tuesday, Schuyler Callihan of reports.

Analysis: This could set up Darnold to reclaim the starting job Week 17 or 18, though he won't exactly be positioned for success as the Panthers close out their season with two games against the Bucs and one against the Saints. It's been a struggle for the Carolina offense since September, regardless of Newton, Darnold or P.J. Walker taking the snaps.

Dec 22, 2021 12:08 PM EST

Cleared for contact

Darnold (shoulder) has been cleared Monday to resume taking contact reps, Jonathan M. Alexander of The Charlotte Observer reports.

Analysis: Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that he won't make a decision about a Week 16 starter until evaluating Darnold at practice, a hint that the signal-caller could be nearing a recovery from his right shoulder injury. Rhule also noted that he'd like to get Darnold more opportunities on the field this season, per David Newton of, perhaps lending credence to the idea that the 2018 first-round pick would reclaim the starting job were he to return to full health. For the time being Darnold remains on IR, but if the Panthers believe he's made enough progress to return to action he could be activated ahead of Week 16's matchup against Tampa Bay.

Dec 20, 2021 9:33 AM EST

Needs another week or two

Darnold (shoulder) is likely still a week or two away from being ready for games, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: Darnold returned to practice Wednesday and was designated to return from IR, but coach Matt Rhule said the QB "can't really practice yet." That likely means Darnold isn't doing much throwing, which leaves the Panthers with Cam Newton and P.J. Walker as the options under center for at least another week or two. Of course, there's no guarantee of Darnold returning to the starting role even if he regains his health before the end of the season.

Dec 15, 2021 11:59 AM EST

Designated for return

The Panthers have designated Darnold (shoulder) for a return from IR, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports.

Analysis: Darnold is working his way back from a partial non-displaced fracture of his right scapula that landed him on IR back in Week 10, but it appears that he's at least ready to resume handling limited reps. The Panthers will now have a 21-day window to evaluate Darnold at practice, and he can be added to the active roster at any point in that span. As Darin Gantt of the team's official site reports, coach Matt Rhule has already named Cam Newton the starter for Sunday's game against Buffalo, and noted that P.J. Walker will also be involved in the gameplan. Rhule also mentioned that Darnold could be a factor down the stretch, but it doesn't appear that Carolina will in any way rush the signal-caller's recovery process.

Dec 15, 2021 8:56 AM EST

Late return still possible

Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that it's a "possibility" Darnold (shoulder) returns down the stretch, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: Rhule did also note that Darnold is still a few weeks away from recovering, per David Newton of, so it appears that his earliest possible chance to come off IR might be Week 16. Cam Newton has proven mistake-prone and struggled to move Carolina's offense through the air since his reunion with the team, and David Newton reports that he and P.J. Walker may split reps under center going forward. As a result, Rhule still has real motivation to explore other possibilities at quarterback.

Dec 13, 2021 9:21 AM EST

Evaluation coming after bye

Coach Matt Rhule said Monday that Darnold (shoulder) has resumed throwing "some" and will be further evaluated after the Panthers' bye week, David Newton of reports.

Analysis: It was previously reported that the Panthers intend to proceed as if Darnold won't be available again this season, even though the recovery timetable for a partial non-displaced fracture of his right scapula could allow him to return around Week 16, but that was before replacement Cam Newton's disastrous performance and subsequent benching during Sunday's loss to the Dolphins. It now looks more like Carolina, who with a 5-7-0 record and four divisional matchups remaining are still in contention for a playoff berth, will explore every option at quarterback. Of course, there's no guarantee Darnold recovers in time to feasibly retake the field during the regular season, so his progression will need to be monitored after the team's Week 13 bye.

Nov 29, 2021 8:53 AM EST

Likely done for 2021

The Panthers are proceeding as though Darnold (shoulder) won't play again this season, even though his rehab from a partial non-displaced fracture of his right scapula entails only a 4-to-6-week recovery timeline, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Analysis: Even if Darnold's recovery trends toward the longer end of that timeline, he would still have a shot at playing in Weeks 16 through 18, but Carolina appears to be closing the door on him making a late-season return from injured reserve. Even before he was diagnosed with the shoulder injury, Darnold's standing atop the depth chart was shaky, as he completed only 59.5 percent of his passes for 6.5 yards per attempt and a 7:11 TD:INT through nine games. P.J. Walker will pick up the start under center Sunday in Arizona, but the Panthers plan to hand the top job over to the newly signed Cam Newton once he gets up to speed with the offense and gets reconditioned. Schefter notes that if Newton plays well down the stretch, the Panthers could look to re-sign him this offseason and have him enter 2022 as their starter.

Nov 14, 2021 6:02 AM EST

Moves to injured reserve

The Panthers placed Darnold (shoulder) on injured reserve Friday.

Analysis: Darnold is expected to be sidelined for the next 4-to-6 weeks with a partial non-displaced fracture of his right scapula, so it was only a matter of time before he landed on injured reserve. P.J. Walker is poised to take over at quarterback for the Panthers Sunday in Arizona, but Cam Newton inked a $6 million deal Thursday and is set to handle starting duties once he's settled in with more practice reps.

Nov 12, 2021 9:08 AM EST

Out at least four weeks

Darnold is expected to be out at least four weeks as a result of the partial non-displaced fracture of his right scapula, Steve Reed of the Associated Press reports.

Analysis: Coach Matt Rhule relayed the news Wednesday, one day removed from Darnold getting an official diagnosis of the injury he suffered this past Sunday against the Patriots. The Panthers are expected to place Darnold on injured reserve -- the move isn't official yet -- but in his place the team will turn to P.J. Walker under center. Behind Walker, Matt Barkley also is on the active roster after Carolina signed him off Tennessee's practice squad Tuesday.

Nov 10, 2021 11:42 AM EST

Dealing with scapula fracture

Darnold was diagnosed with an partial fracture of his right scapula Tuesday and could be sidelined for multiple weeks, Joe Person of The Athletic reports.

Analysis: The Panthers labeled Darnold day-to-day after undergoing an MRI on Monday, but he's apparently dealing with a more significant issue. It's believe he sustained the injury during the second quarter of Sunday's loss to the Patriots, though he still played every offensive snap in the contest. P.J. Walker is poised to step into the starting role for Carolina, while Matt Barkley was signed off Tennessee's practice squad to provide another backup option at quarterback.

Nov 9, 2021 4:30 PM EST

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