Joining NFL Network's Good Morning Football on Tuesday, Anderson said he was "surprised" by the Panthers trading for Darnold, and he looks forward to rebuilding that rapport.
"I think me and Sam had very good chemistry," Anderson said. "I think that really stems from communication and just trust. I think if you look at the growth between me and Sam, you notice toward the back end of me being with the Jets, him throwing the ball up in double coverage and just throwing the ball up. That came with time and just trust in me making those plays and coming through for him in the clutch."
In two seasons with Darnold, Anderson totaled 102 catches for 1,531 yards and 11 TDs in 30 games played. The wideout enjoyed better seasons before and after playing with Darnold (63/941/7 in 2017 with Josh McCown; 95/1,096/3 last year in CAR). Yet, it was clear heading toward the end of the 2019 season that the combo was building chemistry.
When the Jets allowed Anderson to defect to Carolina last offseason, it negated one of the few dynamic options Gang Green had around Darnold. The lack of field-stretching options last season in New York showed in Darnold's struggles. It was the latest example of the Jets failing Darnold during his three seasons.
Anderson noted that the Jets failed to buffer the young QB appropriately.
"Me personally speaking, I just think Sam kinda, his development was not correct with the Jets," he said. "I think he didn't have the best supporting cast around him, the best coaching to get him to his full potential."
With a young roster, Anderson believes the Panthers can compete in a division with the Super Bowl champs and the G.O.A.T., Tom Brady.
"I know our mindset is we're not settling or working to come in second, third or fourth place in the division," he said. "We're trying to win the division, win the championship. So all these pieces and everything is great, but our standard and our mission is still the same."
After three years of poor performances in New York, the Panthers made a bet that better surroundings could unlock the potential in Darnold that made him the No. 3 overall pick in 2018.
Recapturing that chemistry with Anderson should be one of the easier parts of Darnold's transition to new surroundings.