Panthers GM Scott Fitterer: Sam Darnold ‘can take that next step with us’

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Tim Weaver
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You can’t always get what you want. The Panthers got a harsh reminder of that this offseason as they searched for an upgrade at quarterback over Teddy Bridgewater.

First, they tried to trade for Matt Stafford, only to see the Rams swoop in with a better deal. Then, they became obsessed with Deshaun Watson, who got himself into some very serious off-field trouble. Then, the 49ers made a deal with their best potential trade partner in the top five, leapfrogging over the Panthers and a few other QB-needy teams and taking another top prospect off the board a month before the draft even begins.

Carolina was left with a few imperfect options: hold their nose and continue starting Teddy Bridgewater, settle for a second-tier QB prospect like Mac Jones or take a chance on a veteran with upside who’s been caught in a bad situation.

In the end, they chose door No. 3, sending three draft picks to the Jets for Sam Darnold.

The hope is that Darnold’s career will take off now that he’s out from under of the pernicious influence of Adam Gase and the awesome handicap that is playing for a franchise as dysfunctional as the Jets.

General manager Scott Fitterer believes he’ll take that next step, per the team website.

“Sam is a guy I really liked. . . Liked the competitor, liked the toughness, the ability to move in the pocket, he can make big plays downfield with his arm. All those things really stood out about him.I think in this offense with Joe Brady, with Matt Rhule, with the weapons we have around him, that he can take that next step with us.”

Darnold definitely has potential, as he has flashed occasional awe-inspiring talent on his throws. The question is if he can deliver consistently now that he finally has the coaching and the weapons around him.

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