No one would blame Sam Darnold for being bitter about the way his time with the New York Jets ended.
A year ago, Darnold was entrenched as the quarterback of the Jets' future. But in the span of just a few months last fall, he became expendable at age 23.
With each day of the offseason, it became increasingly clear that the Jets would use their No. 2 pick on a new quarterback. And last week, after enduring months of relentless speculation about his future, Darnold was dealt to the Panthers.
Monday, almost exactly a week after he was traded, Darnold spoke to reporters in Carolina for the first time. There was no bitterness or resentment in his voice, no cryptic shots at his former team. He seemed to be excited about the new opportunity and genuinely relieved that he knew where he'd be living and playing this fall.
But for the first time, it was also obvious just how much of a toll this last year took on Darnold. And even after what surely was a nightmarish final chapter for him with the Jets, there was a reminder of what could have been and what kind of person the Jets were moving on from.
"Obviously, getting drafted as high as I did, my expectations were to go in there, play 20 years and win Super Bowls,'' Darnold said. "That was the dream, but obviously it didn't work out.
"Anytime you go somewhere and set lofty goals and those goals aren't met, that's tough. When I heard the news they wanted to trade me, that was tough. Anytime you're not wanted somewhere, that's always a tough pill to swallow.''
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