For a while now, New York Jets rumors have pointed in the direction of them opting to pull off a Sam Darnold trade. New York boasts the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and will likely want to select a hand-picked signal caller of the future for new head coach Robert Saleh.
These rumors have died down some with suggestions that New York’s brass wants to do an entire evaluation of the 2021 NFL Draft class at quarterback before making a decision.
That won’t come to fruition until the end of March, weeks after NFL free agency opens. This could put New York in an unenviable position of attempting to pull off a Sam Darnold trade at a time when teams know he’s going to be moved and with others having already filled out their quarterback rooms.
In talking to the media on Wednesday, Jets general manager Joe Douglas seemed to change his tune a bit.
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New York Jets GM says he will field Sam Darnold trade calls
“Jets GM Joe Douglas tells reporters that he’ll answer calls pertaining to potentially trading QB Sam Darnold, though there is no firm decision on which way it’ll go.” the front office head said, via NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
This is the clearest indication yet that the Jets plan to move on from their former No. 3 overall pick after just three seasons. It was recently noted that New York is targeting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the second pick in next month’s NFL Draft. He’s taken over for Justin Fields as the consensus No. 2 quarterback prospect behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence.
Previously, there was some thought given to the idea that the Jets might opt to trade out of the second pick with a quarterback-needy team — retaining Darnold while adding a ton of draft compensation in the process. Apparently, the evaluations from Saleh and new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur have not been kind to the incumbent starter.
New York Jets rumors: How might a Sam Darnold trade look?
If Douglas and Co. are able to agree in principle to a Darnold trade ahead of the start of NFL free agency on March 17, they can expect more compensation. If they were to wait until all the college pro days are completed, said compensation would take a hit.
Right now, New York is likely looking at a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft as compensation. If the team acquiring Darnold is picking in the top half of Round 2, a third-round selection this year and a conditional mid-round pick next year in a hypothetical Sam Darnold trade could be in the cards.
The San Francisco 49ers have been bandied about as a potential destination. Head coach Kyle Shanahan loved Darnold coming out of USC back in 2018. Despite three pedestrian seasons in Jersey, those feelings have not changed.
It’s also important to note that the 49ers have been in the market for either an upgrade over Jimmy Garoppolo or someone to compete with the Super Bowl quarterback in training camp.
While it’s unlikely San Francisco’s views Darnold as an upgrade, a competition could be in the cards this summer. The 49ers are up against the 2021 NFL salary cap. Darnold would cost roughly $5 million against said cap for any team acquiring him in a trade.
The Chicago Bears, Washington Football Team, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos are all still in the market for a quarterback. An argument could be made that all of them make sense when it comes to a potential Sam Darnold trade.