“It’s exciting. This team is comprised of a bunch of young guys,” Jones said, via Kevin Patra of Around the NFL. “Obviously, he’s going into his second year. What we saw last year was great from him but we expect a big jump. The kid’s been working, I know he’s been working. He’s been a great kid. Really good head on his shoulders. And that’s the beauty of it. We’re surrounded by a bunch of good guys who want to be great again. So I’m looking forward to seeing his jump. His contributions to the team have been great so far, but we’re looking for even something better this year. It’s exciting. I can’t wait to see him work his magic.”
Connor Hughes and Joseph Person of The Athletic note that the trade of QB Sam Darnold from the Jets to the Panthers was months in the making, and started back in January. They continued at the pro day of Utah QB Zach Wilson. Eventually, it was a meeting between Panthers GM Scott Fitterer, Panthers HC Matt Rhule, and Jets GM Joe Douglas at the pro day for Ohio State QB Justin Fields that got the ball rolling.
The Panthers studied three years of NFL game tape on Darnold, which was done by Rhule himself, along with the Panthers’ pro scouts. Rhule and Fitterer also sought endorsements from ex-teammates of Darnold such as WR Robby Anderson.
“I keep going back to the competitor that Sam is,” Fitterer said. “I’ve talked to players, people in the Jets organization. There are players that have been there, and they all just rave about the work ethic, the person, the guy that comes in the building every day. I love that — that we’re adding that to our locker room.”
Fitterer was continually in contact with Douglas, who was attempting to hold off on the deal until all the quarterback prospects completed their pro-day workouts.
“Joe’s been a good friend for a long time. We saw him at several of the quarterback workouts this year,” Fitterer said. “I think we were both on the same page: Hey, let’s get through all these workouts, see what the medicals are. Let’s see what these guys are like in the workouts, on Zoom, and everything else. Let’s learn as much as we can about this.”
At Fields’ throwing session, Rhule and Fitterer spoke to Douglas about Darnold. Douglas indicated the Jets would not simply give Darnold away, which fired up the trade talks.
“When it comes to finding out just the right compensation, they value their players a certain way. And we look at them and we evaluate them a certain way. It’s just trying to find that happy medium so that we can all make a value decision that we think is valuable for us,” Fitterer said. “We see him as a starter. They really like Sam. They saw him as a starter. They’re in a position where they can make multiple decisions or take a quarterback at the top of the draft. So we just had to come to an agreement on what the right price was.”
Douglas was unsure about pulling the trigger, as he felt there was a chance the Jets could end up with a first-round pick if they held Darnold until the draft. Carolina then made the decision to include the fourth-rounder, in addition to the second and sixth which solidified the deal. Douglas was afraid that by not doing the deal, Carolina would end up going in a different direction, as Washington and San Francisco decided to.
“We felt like this was a decision that was best for all parties,” Douglas says. “We feel really good with the value and the compensation we were able to get from Carolina. These assets we have through the draft — it is incumbent on us to get these decisions right. … We have to surround our next quarterback with as much talent as possible. … We have to make the most of this opportunity.”
- Ian Rapoport of NFL Media identifies the Broncos and Patriots as two potential candidates to trade up for a quarterback in round one.
- Rapoport doesn’t anticipate that the Patriots are done at the quarterback position, despite re-signing Cam Newton.
- Rapoport expects New England to draft a quarterback this year and believes they’re worth watching in a trade-up should a prospect start to slide a bit.
- Phil Perry reports that Western Michigan WR D’Wayne Eskridge has met with Patriots special teams coach Cam Achord multiple times.
- The Patriots attended the Pro Day for Merrimack G Sam Cooper. (Justin Melo)
- Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston takes an in-depth look at several prototypical offensive linemen who could be fits for the Patriots in this year’s draft.