The Carolina Panthers benched Sam Darnold in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 25-3 loss to the New York Giants amid the fourth-year veteran’s continued struggles.
Darnold was replaced by P.J. Walker, the former XFL standout, in the fourth quarter with the Panthers trailing 15-3.
Darnold completed 16 of 25 passes for 111 yards with one interception before being sidelined. Walker connected on just 3 of 14 passes for 33 yards. Each quarterback took three sacks.
Carolina entered Sunday’s game on a three-game losing streak after starting the season 3-0. Darnold had thrown four touchdowns with six interceptions during the losing streak while completing just 54.7% of its passes.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule said Darnold would remain the team’s starting quarterback for next week’s game at the Atlanta Falcons, adding that the did not expect to acquire another quarterback before the Nov. 2 trade deadline.
“I could feel like it was at the tipping point, it was now or never,” Rhule said in a postgame news conference. “The last thing I want to do is embarrass somebody because I know that’s going to be the story this week.”
Said Darnold of the benching: “That’s up to him. Whatever he thinks is the best decision, ultimately that is his decision.”
Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer acquired Darnold from the New York Jets in an April trade in exchange for second- and fourth-round draft picks in 2022 and a sixth-round selection this year. The team subsequently dealt incumbent starter Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos and elected not to select a quarterback in the NFL draft despite owning the No. 8 overall selection.
Darnold is owed $18.858 million fully guaranteed in 2022 after the Panthers exercised his fifth-year option.
Follow Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSchwartz.