When the Jets selected Sam Darnold with the third pick in 2018 NFL Draft, Gang Green looked to be acquiring their next face of the franchise for hopefully the next decade-plus.
Darnold’s first three years as a pro have been up and down, and while he’s shown flashes of being exactly the quarterback the Jets had hoped for, there’s also been a lot of change around him, in terms of players on the field, the coaching staff, and the front office.
And now with the Jets currently having a winless record and the chances of potentially landing Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence growing larger every week, the Jets find themselves in an interesting crossroads when it comes to the quarterback position.
The MMQB’s Albert Breer was a guest on the latest episode of The Tailgate, where he explained that if the Jets move on from Darnold after this season, it has much more to do with the opportunity to take Lawrence than with how Darnold has played.
And that fact should mean that teams will be interested in making a trade for Darnold if the Jets do indeed decide to make a move.
“I think there’s definitely potential for him to go somewhere else and get a nice restart. This is a very unique situation, and I don’t think the Jets would move on for just any quarterback,” Breer said. “The fact is Trevor Lawrence is on a different level than most quarterbacks that we’ve seen come out. He’s in the category with John Elway, with Peyton Manning, with Andrew Luck. Coming out, that’s the sort of grade that he’s going to have, and a true once-in-a-decade prospect at the most important position. That’s why you’re moving on from Sam Darnold. It’s not because Sam can’t play. It’s because the other guy is a generational prospect.
“The thing you want to look at here more than anything else is the assessment of Joe Douglas, who didn’t draft Sam Darnold, and what he’s seen so far, and then there’s some financial repercussions here too. After Year Three is really when you have to marry your young quarterback, that’s the way it is.”
Only 23 years old, Darnold has a career 59.5 completion percentage with a 41-37 touchdown/interception ration. Beyond the stats, Darnold passes the eye test for what teams want in a quarterback: He’s got good size at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, can make any throw, and is also an above average athlete in terms of getting out of the pocket and making plays with his legs.
So the question would then become exactly what the Jets could be hoping to get as far as a return on Darnold in any potential deal.
“You’d have to look at teams that really would be going back to their assessment in 2018 and ho he is and who like the flashes they’ve seen the last three years,” Breer said. “So, I do think that there would be a market because it’s sort of a unique situation where the Jets can sell the idea ‘It’s not like this guy failed. We just have an opportunity here in front of us.’ I think it’s something you can logically kind of wrap your head around if you’re another team.
“There are a fair number of teams that really thought highly of Sam coming out in 2018 that might be willing to deal a second-round pick and maybe a day three pick for him or maybe even a late first-rounder.”
Of course, there’s a distinct chance the Jets don’t end up with the first pick in next year’s draft, which would make all of this moot. But it will certainly be very interesting to see how the team handles their quarterback situation if they do indeed land the top pick.
You can watch the full episode of The Tailgate in the video above.
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