Updated: Apr 6, 2021
(Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
This offseason many have linked the Steelers as a possible trade partner with the Jets for former first-round pick quarterback Sam Darnold. However, that won't be happening. It was announced today that the Jets traded Darnold to the Panthers for a 2021 sixth-round pick and a second-and-fourth round picks in 2022.
The Steelers need an heir apparent to the 39-year-old Ben Roethlisberger, who most likely will retire following the 2021 season, so from that perspective, it made sense for the Steelers to have an interest in Darnold. The only other options for the Steelers at quarterback are Mason Rudolph and Dwayne Haskins, so yeah, it's not encouraging. However, the Steelers have just too many holes on their roster right now and they're going all-in with Roethlisberger for one final ride. The talent on their roster might not be able to do so, but that's what the organization believes.
Darnold is only 23 years old, but he's a big unknown. He's had a tumultuous career so far, but you have to consider that he's been playing for one of the worst run organizations in the NFL in the Jets. In his three years in New York, Darnold completed 729 of 1,219 of his passes (59.8%) for 8,097 yards and had a 45-39 touchdown-interception ratio, along with a 78.6 quarterback rating. So, yeah his stats were not impressive, but he has shown spurts of potential on a terrible team with very few weapons.
The Panthers are reportedly picking up Darnold's fifth-year option, so they're confident that he'll be able to turn his career around in Carolina. Darnold's owed $4.605 million in salary and roster bonus for 2021, which is probably the biggest reason why the Steelers didn't trade for Darnold. What Carolina gave up for Darnold was pretty fair. The fifth-year option on Darnold's contract is $18.8 million in fully guaranteed money as well. That's another reason why the Steelers didn't go after Darnold. The Panthers are taking somewhat of a risk for Darnold and it could pay off for them in the long run. It will be interesting to see how it pans out. Darnold just wasn't in the cards for the Steelers, as several aspects didn't make it a logical option.