Sam Darnold’s Latest Crushing Injury Setback Could Doom Him to Life as a Backup Quarterback

Sam Darnold’s latest injury sets his future in doubt as a starting quarterback, and he may have to spend the rest of his career playing backup.

The “pj walker” is a football player who has been in the NFL for 10 seasons. His latest injury setback could doom him to life as a backup quarterback.

The Carolina Panthers’ acquisition of quarterback Sam Darnold was widely panned when it was originally announced. During his three seasons with the New York Jets, Darnold battled mightily, seldom displaying the kind of talent that would make him a franchise quarterback.

The Panthers, on the other hand, had a different opinion. The Panthers felt they had the resources to rebuild and remold Darnold with head coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Joe Brady. They were so convinced that they handed a second-round selection and a change to New York in exchange for Darnold.

Fast ahead to Week 10 of the 2021 season, and things for Darnold and the Panthers could not be going any worse.

Sam Darnold was unable to demonstrate that he is capable of becoming the Panthers’ starting quarterback.

In the last five games, Sam Darnold has thrown 160 passes.

Over the last decade, 373 quarterbacks have thrown at least 160 passes in a season. His stretch would be ranked as follows:

370th in INT percent 372nd in Y/A 371st in TD percent 372nd in Y/A

It can’t possibly be much worse.

— Chris Towers (@CTowersCBS) on November 10, 2021 in a Taylor Swift shirt

The Panthers opened the season 3-0, and everything in this new Darnold-Carolina friendship looked to be going swimmingly. However, things have altered considerably since then.

The Panthers are 0-5 since their season-opening three-game winning run, and Darnold is looking more and more like his New York self. Among qualifying starting quarterbacks, he has the third-worst passer rating and the fifth-worst quarterback rating (QBR). With 11 interceptions, he’s tied for first in the league with Joe Burrow.

During the Panthers’ Week 7 setback, Rhule benched Darnold and replaced him with veteran XFL quarterback PJ Walker. Around the trade deadline, the Panthers were extensively linked to quarterback Deshaun Watson, demonstrating their disdain for Darnold.

The Panthers’ hoped-for great comeback season hasn’t materialized. To make things worse, Darnold is battling with an injury that might keep him out for the rest of 2021, basically putting a stop to his chances of reclaiming Carolina.

The Panthers have put their ailing quarterback on injured reserve.

Exams found that #Panthers QB Sam Darnold has a broken scapula after two days of testing, according to sources. Darnold will most likely miss many weeks due to his right shoulder issue. His backup, PJ Walker, will take over.

November 10, 2021 — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet)

Before Darnold’s scapula injury, it seemed like Carolina didn’t consider him as a long-term quarterback solution. It now seems to be on the verge of becoming impossible.

Darnold isn’t going to have an opportunity to show Rhule and Brady how good he is any time soon. Instead, he’ll be placed on injured reserve while the club continues to operate with Walker at quarterback. Darnold’s most recent Panthers memory is of him throwing three interceptions and zero touchdowns against the New England Patriots.

What does Sam Darnold’s future hold?

Lance King/Getty Images/Sam Darnold

Darnold has now started as quarterback for two different teams, both of which have failed miserably. For three years, the Jets clung to optimism. The Panthers are unlikely to follow suit.

To begin with, the Panthers are expected to examine the Deshaun Watson situation over the summer. Watson played collegiate football at Clemson, so there’s a link there, and conversations will certainly flare up once clubs’ selection positions are determined.

If the Panthers sign Watson or a new starting quarterback in general, Darnold’s sole option may be to serve as the team’s backup quarterback. Darnold’s fifth-year option was already picked up by Carolina, meaning he’ll most likely remain in Carolina. However, there’s a good possibility he’ll be required to play as a high-priced QB2.

Maybe this won’t be a topic if Darnold stays healthy and has a good second half of the 2021 season. However, given the current state of affairs, it is doubtful that Darnold will be the Panthers’ unquestioned quarterback next season.

Pro Football Reference provided all stats.

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