“There’s a little bit of both — relief and excitement,” Darnold told Panthers.com’s Darin Gantt. “There’s been so much uncertainty this offseason, not knowing what your future was going to look like, that was hard.
“But now that I’m in Charlotte, I’m excited, and yeah, I guess I am kind of relieved to be here.”
Of course, Darnold didn’t think he’d be in this situation that now has him as the favorite to start for Carolina next season. After the Jets drafted him third overall in 2018, green and white is all he pictured wearing for the rest of his playing career.
Three years later, he’s be suiting up in electric blue and black from now on.
“I imagined I was going to be the franchise quarterback of the New York Jets for a long time,” he said. “And once you realize that the team that drafted you is moving on, it stings a little bit.”
GM Joe Douglas and the rest of the Jets organization sifted through their options and were deliberate about their decision to trade Darnold. They got a good haul: A sixth-round pick in this year’s draft followed by second- and fourth-round selections in the 2022 NFL Draft.
With the No. 2 overall pick in their possession, it was apparent drafting a new quarterback and starting fresh with a guy that Douglas drafted compared to Mike Maccagnan taking Darnold three years ago was the mindset.
As for Darnold, he now joins a situation that involves a familiar face, Robby Anderson, in his receiving corps. He also has one of the most dynamic running backs in the game, Christian McCaffrey, in his backfield. And young, aggressive offensive minds in head coach Matt Rhule and OC Joe Brady could bring out parts of Darnold’s game that wasn’t seen in New York.
“The culture that’s being set here is amazing,” Darnold said. “That’s probably the part that intrigues me the most about this.”
So Darnold will continue to make the best of this transition he’s going through, but at the end of the day, he’s just happy a team wants to work with him and believes he can be their guy under center.
“To go from being unwanted to being wanted is huge,” Darnold explained. “Getting that news that you’re going to be traded, of a team saying, ‘Hey, we didn’t want you,” for whatever reason, is hard.
“But right now, I feel great about it, and I’m excited to get here, and get started.”