Panthers GM Scott Fitterer: No teams have called about trade for Sam Darnold

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Do the Carolina Panthers, following their trade with the Cleveland Browns for quarterback Baker Mayfield, now have a sunk cost on their roster in Sam Darnold? According to general manager Scott Fitterer—no.

Fitterer spoke to media members on Tuesday to address the move for Mayfield, with Darnold’s name coming up right away. And although they have a shiny new toy in the former No. 1 overall pick, the Panthers still plan on hosting a battle for the reins under center.

“No, this is an open competition,” Fitterer said when asked if Mayfield already has the starting job. “The reason why we added Baker was to make the group better as a whole. Our whole philosophy is that competition, not just in the quarterback room, but every position. So if we see an opportunity where we can get better where we add a player, it makes sense for us as a team, makes sense for us financially, makes sense for us just from addition standpoint, we’re gonna do that.”

Financially, Carolina was able to corral Mayfield for just a conditional 2024 fifth-round pick and a base salary of approximately $4.5 million. As for Darnold, they’re currently on the hook for a guaranteed $18.8 million in 2022—which makes any potential move, if there even is one to made, extremely difficult.

So when Joseph Person of The Athletic asked if any teams have called up on the availability of the struggling quarterback, Fitterer gave perhaps the most unsurprising answer in the history of unsurprising answers.

“No,” he said. “No teams have called. We’re not looking to move Sam at all. I said this last week. Sam’s very much apart of this competition. I think this’ll be great. It’s great for Baker, it’s great for Sam. And I think they’re both gonna rise and play their best football they have.”

Considering how long it took to get a deal for Mayfield, who has clearly been a better player than his fellow 2018 draftee, the Panthers are very likely stuck with Darnold for the final year of his rookie contract. All that’s left for him, unfortunately, is to go down swinging.

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