Jul 28, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA;  Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws a pass during the Carolina Panthers Training Camp at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers to debut Sam Darnold; D.J. Moore, Brian Burns hurt

Sam Darnold is suiting up for the Panthers’ preseason game Saturday and Carolina coach Matt Rhule plans to have the quarterback debut, if only for one series.

Darnold could play “one or two” series against the visiting Baltimore Ravens, Rhule said, but a final decision isn’t likely to be made until gametime.

Darnold was acquired from the New York Jets in an offseason trade and replaces quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who landed with the Denver Broncos.

The Panthers won’t know the status of two starters injured Thursday — wide receiver D.J. Moore and pass rusher Brian Burns — but neither is likely to suit up for the weekend exhibition.

Burns watched practice with a wrap on his shoulder and Moore left a joint workout with the Ravens on Thursday with stiffness in his back.

–Field Level Media

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) gets rid of the ball as he's hit by Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Jordan Elliott (90) in the second half. The Jets defeat the Browns, 23-16, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in East Rutherford.

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Panthers commit to QB Sam Darnold, WR DJ Moore through 2022

Quarterback Sam Darnold and wide receiver DJ Moore are guaranteed contracts with the Panthers through 2022 after Carolina picked up their fifth-year options on Friday.

Darnold, acquired from the New York Jets for two draft picks, also was validated as the undisputed starter in Carolina on Thursday. The Panthers passed on multiple prospects at the position to select cornerback Jaycee Horn eighth overall in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

“I’m not going to talk about other players; we brought Sam here for a reason,” Panthers head coach Matt Rhule said. “We’re excited to see what he can do. We’re excited to give him an opportunity. We traded for him because we believe in his potential.”

The option will pay Darnold just under $20 million for 2022. He’s scheduled to make $9.7 million in 2021.

Darnold was selected No. 3 overall in 2018. Jets general manager Joe Douglas and former head coach Adam Gase admitted multiple failures by the Jets impacted Darnold’s development.

The Panthers selected Moore with the No. 24 overall pick in 2018. He’s coming off of a career-best year with 1,193 receiving yards in 2020.

Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater started for the Panthers last season but was traded to the Denver Broncos earlier this week.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule with quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) in the first quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Panthers permit odd man out Teddy Bridgewater to seek trade

Teddy Bridgewater went from QB1 to trade bait with the arrival of Sam Darnold in Carolina and has permission to shop himself to other teams.

According to multiple reports, the Panthers informed Bridgewater he can seek a trade following the acquisition of Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft, from the New York Jets on Monday.

A former first-round pick on his third NFL team, Bridgewater signed in free agency with Carolina last March and started 15 games for the Panthers. The team went 4-11 in those games and holds the eighth overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Bridgewater’s $23 million cap hit for the 2021 season and his pedestrian production could make a trade challenging.

Few teams who aren’t in position to draft a quarterback in the first round this season are unsettled at quarterback, but the Denver Broncos and New York Giants are thought to be considering veteran options.

The 28-year-old has appeared in 59 games since he entered the NFL out of Louisville in 2014.

The Panthers traded a package of draft picks for Darnold, who has two years, $23.6 million remaining on his rookie deal.

Previously a starter for the Minnesota Vikings and the primary backup to Drew Brees in New Orleans, Bridgewater replaced Cam Newton — who was released to avoid a cap hit over $20 million last spring — in head coach Matt Rhule’s first season with the team.

Bridgewater had 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2021.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) breaks a tackle by Denver Broncos free safety Justin Simmons (31) for a touchdown at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jets QB Darnold: Lawrence speculation out of my control

Angry and disgruntled New York Jets fans are becoming more vocal about the possibility that the club could be in position to select Clemson star quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Current quarterback Sam Darnold hears the chatter and will sidestep it.

“For me, it’s out of my control,” Darnold told reporters on Thursday. “I’m here to do my best and help this team win games.”

The Jets (0-6) are the lone winless team in the NFL and Darnold hasn’t come close to meeting the lofty expectations that were placed on him when he was the No. 3 overall choice out of Southern California by New York in 2018.

Darnold, 23, has thrown 39 touchdown passes and 32 interceptions in 30 starts for the Jets. The team is just 11-19 in those contests.

More and more people are calling on New York to move on from the third-year pro and Darnold is not immune to the speculation that Lawrence would represent a major improvement at the position.

“Yeah, you know, I mean, I have social media,” Darnold said while addressing the Lawrence situation for the initial time. “I’ve seen some of the things. … We’ve got a game to win this week and that’s all we’re worried about.”

Darnold is expected to return to the starting lineup against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday after missing the past two games due to a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder.

Darnold said he isn’t pain-free but he feels he is moving in the right direction. He sustained the injury against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 1.

“There’s a little bit of pain, but it’s nothing crazy,” Darnold said. “I feel like I’m capable of dealing with it.”

Head coach Adam Gase, who is under fire with the club having scored the fewest points (75) in the NFL, would like to see Darnold back on the field. The Jets scored 10 total points in two games with veteran Joe Flacco as the starter.

Darnold has passed for 792 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions in four games this season. He allowed that his production isn’t winning football games.

“I don’t think I’ve played well enough to win, that’s just shooting it straight,” Darnold said. “We haven’t won any games, so obviously I haven’t played well enough.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws the ball as Denver Broncos linebacker Malik Reed (59) pursues during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Jets QB Darnold (shoulder) returns to practice

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold returned to practice Wednesday and has a chance to be the starter when the team hosts the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Darnold has missed the past two games after suffering an AC joint sprain in his right (throwing) shoulder against the Denver Broncos on Oct. 1.

Darnold received first-team practice repetitions on Wednesday and coach Adam Gase said a decision will come later in the week.

“All options are available,” Gase told reporters. “We’ll have him on a pitch count. I think really the biggest thing is how he’s going to feel (Thursday).

“If there’s anything that lingers or anything where he’s throwing (in pain), that’s kind of his red flag of, ‘Hey, I have to let you guys know.’ We need him to be real honest.”

Without Darnold, the Jets (0-6) scored 10 total points in two games with Joe Flacco as the starter. New York has scored the fewest points (75) in the NFL.

Even with Darnold, the Jets weren’t lighting up the scoreboard. They scored 17 or fewer points in each of his first three games.

Darnold has passed for 792 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Flacco has thrown for 397 yards, one touchdown and one interception in three games this season.

–Field Level Media

Sep 13, 2020; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Former teammates Buffalo Bills wide receiver John Brown (15) and New York Jets quarterback Joe Flacco (5) walk off the field together after a game at Bills Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Jets activate QB Flacco for game vs. Broncos

Veteran quarterback Joe Flacco will be active for the first time this season when the New York Jets host the Denver Broncos on Thursday night.

Flacco underwent offseason neck surgery and wasn’t available as New York opened its season with three straight losses.

The activation of Flacco comes after starting quarterback Sam Darnold threw three interceptions — including two returned for touchdowns — in Sunday’s 36-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

Flacco, 35, has passed for 40,067 yards, 218 touchdowns and 141 interceptions in 171 career games for the Baltimore Ravens (2008-18) and Broncos (2019). He was named Super Bowl MVP when the Ravens notched a 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers following the 2012 season.

Flacco was released by Denver in March. The Jets signed him in late May.

New York waived quarterback Mike White to open up a roster spot. The Jets will likely resign White — who has never taken a regular-season snap — to the practice squad.

–Field Level Media