Sam Darnold could reportedly be traded to Indianapolis Colts in 2021

By Matt Johnson
Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) looks to pass against the New England Patriots during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Darnold is one of the hottest names on the NFL trade market, with the New York Jets receiving plenty of calls as the offseason begins. With the quarterback carousel moving, a new favorite has reportedly emerged for the former No. 3 overall pick.

When the Jets hired Robert Saleh as head coach, early speculation hinted at the team retaining its top quarterback. Everything changed a week later when the Jets wouldn’t commit to Darnold as their star of the future. Once that happened, rival clubs started reaching out and the trade rumors haven’t stopped since.

Related: 4 likeliest Sam Darnold trade scenarios

NFL rumors: ‘Real possibility’ Indianapolis Colts trade for Sam Darnold

Following the retirement of Philip Rivers, the Indianapolis Colts began their search for a new quarterback. The team first pursued Matthew Stafford, but it couldn’t match the massive package of draft picks that the Los Angeles Rams offered. With Stafford off the board and Deshaun Watson stuck with the Houston Texans, Indianapolis has moved on to secondary targets.

Philadelphia Eagles star Carson Wentz seemed like the perfect option, given his relationship with head coach Frank Reich. However, while the Colts have expressed interest, Philadelphia’s asking price is preventing a trade. Plus, with another NFL team more desperate and now the presumed favorite, the focus could be shifting to other options.

Multiple NFL sources told Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline that there is a real possibility Sam Darnold is traded to the Indianapolis Colts. If there is one other team to keep an eye on, it’s believed to be the San Francisco 49ers.

Related: San Francisco 49ers high on Sam Darnold, Jimmy Garoppolo could be headed back to New England Patriots

New York holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, putting the franchise in the perfect position to draft a top quarterback prospect. Of course, that would mean giving up on Darnold after just three seasons and trading him at a low point in his value.

With that said, it might be in the team’s best interest. Darnold still hasn’t proven he can be a franchise quarterback and the 2021 season will bt the fourth year in his rookie contract. Given how much his cap figure could accelerate in 2022, if the team exercises its fifth-year option, that becomes a significant financial commitment to a quarterback with a 79.1 passer rating and 60.9% completion rate in his last 25 starts.

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The Jets might be willing to accept a second-round pick in return. For the Colts, that would mean sending the No. 53 overall pick and potentially a Day 3 selection.

Reich does have an excellent track record with quarterbacks. More importantly, the Colts’ supporting cast is superior to anything the 23-year-old had in his first three seasons with the Jets.

With Wentz and potentially Darnold on the move, the NFL quarterback carousel could be wilder than ever this offseason. If both players come off the board, Watson may be the only option remaining.