New York Jets rumors: Team could retain Sam Darnold after hiring of Robert Saleh

Dec 12, 2019; Baltimore, MD, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) stands on the field before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

New York Jets rumors are taking over the NFL world Thursday evening. Fresh off the downtrodden organization announcing that it has hired San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh to be its next head coach, we’re hearing a bit more from a player personnel standpoint.

A lot of the talk in Jersey following an ugly two-win season under recently-fired head coach Adam Gase has been about the future of quarterback Sam Darnold. While Saleh himself is a defensive-minded head coach, he’s apparently in lockstep with general manager Joe Douglas regarding Darnold and the Jets’ quarterback position.

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New York Jets increasingly likely to retain Sam Darnold

Jets rumors: Some NFL team could still view same Darnold as one of the top young NFL quarterbacks.
Jan 3, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) walks alone on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

“I would be surprised if Sam Darnold is not the starting quarterback for the Jets next season,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter said Thursday evening. “Robert Saleh believes in Darnold. Joe Douglas believes in Darnold.”

Selecting No. 2 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jets rumors have indicated that they might look to add either Zach Wilson (BYU) or Justin Fields (Ohio State). If this note from Schefter is correct, it will have a major trickle-down effect come draft time.

It was previously noted that the Jets are looking to pull off a blockbuster trade surrounding the quarterback position during the offseason. Said report indicated that New York would either move off Darnold after just three seasons or trade down from the second selection with a quarterback-needy team.

If the Jets are indeed sold on Darnold for next season, it makes perfect sense for them to start taking offers for the second selection with Trevor Lawrence almost guaranteed to go No. 1 overall to Urban Meyer and the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Are these Jets rumors nothing more than smoke?

New York Jets rumors: Team hires Robert Saleh
Feb 2, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh reacts as he walks off the field after losing Super Bowl LIV to the Kansas City Chiefs at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

There’s an argument that New York is putting this out there in order to either entice teams into a Sam Darnold trade or acquire feelers about the No. 2 pick. It’s all about the PR game in the modern NFL.

With that said, it stands to reason that Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas would have had widespread discussions about Darnold. It’s only the most-important position on the football field.

The simple fact that Saleh is also bringing 49ers passing-game coordinator Mike LaFleur with him to Jersey adds a whole other layer to this. LaFleur worked with a similar type of quarterback as Darnold in that of Jimmy Garoppolo with San Francisco.

Related: Sam Darnold trade scenarios

We won’t know one way or another for some time what the Jets plan to do at quarterback unless they trade the No. 2 pick in short order.

What we do know is that New York needs more from this position moving forward. Throughout the course of his three-year career, Darnold has posted a 13-25 record as a starter with 45 touchdowns against 39 interceptions.

Last season saw the USC product tally two more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (9) in 12 starts. New York finished dead last in scoring and 31st in passing offense under Gase. That’s where LaFleur comes into play as the team’s new offensive coordinator.

For now, speculation will ramp up as it relates to the Jets’ quarterback situation. However, Schefter was pretty darn clear in his report. Saleh and Douglas are apparently sold on him for at least the 2021 season. Things could obviously change on this front moving forward.

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