The Carolina Panthers are looking to turn the corner after a disappointing 2021 season that saw them finish 5-12. The main question surrounding the Panthers is the future at the quarterback position. After cycling through the likes of PJ Walker, Cam Newton, and Sam Darnold in 2021, it's time for head coach Matt Rhule to stick to one QB for the 2022 season. When addressing the future of the position, Rhule had some pretty eye-opening comments about Darnold going forward. Via David Newton, Rhule was non-committal regarding Darnold's future with the team, saying that the former Jets' first-round pick has “a lot to prove.”
Matt Rhule on whether Sam Darnold is the future of the Panthers at quarterback: “We recognize we have to improve the overall quarterback play. We started four quarterbacks in two years. That’s not a recipe for success. Whether he’s the future or not, he’s got a lot to prove.’’
— David Newton (@DNewtonespn) January 10, 2022
Rhule is well aware of the dire need for improved quarterback play in Carolina. After starting four quarterbacks over the past two years, it seems the Panthers' boss is determined to find a solution at the position. Whether or not the solution is Darnold remains to be seen, but Rhule's comments don't bode particularly well for the USC product heading into the fifth year of his career.
The former No. 3 overall pick is due to make $18.5 million in 2022 and will count for as much against the cap, meaning the Panthers will be paying Darnold unless they're able to find a trade partner for him. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2023, at which point the Panthers would have no financial obligations to the 24-year-old.
In 2021, Darnold started 11 games for the Panthers, going 4-7 in games he started. He completed 59.9% of his pass attempts for 2,527 yards, nine touchdown passes, and 11 interceptions.