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New York Jets quarterback: Top 4 options for 2021 NFL season

Vincent Frank
New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson?
Dec 22, 2020; Boca Raton, Florida, USA; Brigham Young Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson (1) scrambles with the ball against the UCF Knights during the first half at FAU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets quarterback situation is now going to be a major theme during the offseason after they missed out on the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes.

Sure the 2021 NFL Draft is still months away, but it’s now clear that the Jacksonville Jaguars will take Lawrence No. 1 overall after the Jets won two consecutive games to move off the top pick.

This will obviously lead to a ton of question marks as it relates to the Jets quarterback situation. Perhaps, former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold will be given another chance to prove himself without soon-to-be fired head coach Adam Gase ruining his development.

However, there’s every reason to believe general manager Joe Douglas will look for an upgrade at quarterback at some point this coming offseason. Here, we look at the top-four Jets quarterback options as the long-downtrodden organization attempts to turn things around.

Related: NFL mock draft 2023 – CJ Stroud, Bryce Young headline outstanding 2023 NFL Draft class

Sam Darnold trade opens up new avenue for Jets quarterback situation

Could the New York Jets quarterback be Derek Carr in 2021?
Dec 29, 2019; Denver, Colorado, USA; Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) leaves the field before the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

We can blame Gase all we want for Darnold’s lack of progression as a third-year quarterback. That’s fair. However, the former USC standout also must take in some of the blame. Through 37 career starts, Darnold has posted a 13-24 record with 44 touchdowns against 37 interceptions while averaging a mere 211 passing yards per game. That’s just not going to cut it.

Related: Jimmy Garoppolo trade scenarios

In moving Darnold, the Jets could potentially bring back a stopgap starter in return. Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers comes to mind first. He’d be able to hold down the fort until a rookie first-round pick is ready to take to the NFL gridiron as a starter. Despite his struggles with injuries, Garoppolo has more than proven he’s capable of being a stopgap option. Derek Carr of the Las Vegas Raiders could make sense, too.

New York Jets quarterback comes via trade

New York Jets quarterback Carson Wentz?
Nov 22, 2020; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive end Olivier Vernon (54) sacks Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) for a safety during the second half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

We touched on Garoppolo and Carr above. However, there’s a ton of other options out there for the Jets should they opt to move on from Darnold. Not all of them include New York going with another young signal caller. As unlikely as it might seems, a trade for injured Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott could work.

Would the Jets be willing to offer up the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft for a proven franchise quarterback? It really would be a franchise-altering move for the organization. Perhaps, Douglas and Co. look to resurrect the career of one Carson Wentz after he was benched by the Philadelphia Eagles earlier in the season.

Related: Carson Wentz trade scenarios

Jets quarterback remains Sam Darnold with a caveat included

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold
Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) breaks a tackle by Denver Broncos inside linebacker A.J. Johnson (45) for a touchdown at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

To say that New York has fumbled the Sam Darnold situation would be an understatement. He entered the 2020 season with one of the worst wide receiver groups in the NFL and a head coach in Adam Gase who already seemed to be in over his head last season. The end result has been complete disaster in the Big Apple, including Gase struggling to handle a Darnold injury earlier in the year.

There’s a chance New York opts to retain Darnold as its starter while finding a big-name offensive-minded head coach to help him progress as a fourth-year player. Jim Harbaugh, anyone? The caveat here is obvious. New York would also have to find a veteran option to sit behind Darnold, one not named Joe Flacco.

Jets quarterback comes via 2021 NFL Draft

New York Jets quarterback Justin Fields?
Dec 7, 2019; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) reacts against the Wisconsin Badgers during the first half in the 2019 Big Ten Championship Game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Locked in with the No. 2 pick in April’s draft, the next Jets quarterback could very well come via that selection. Zach Wilson (BYU) and Justin Fields (Ohio State) are the two options should Trevor Lawrence go first, as expected. Wilson’s stock seems to be skyrocketing following a brilliant bowl performance while Fields could drop a peg or two down the draft board.

Heck, there’s even a chance the Jets could trade the second pick and still land one of these two quarterbacks. A trade down to five with the Atlanta Falcons, who might be looking for Matt Ryan’s heir-apparent, might make sense. For now, this seems to be the most-logical solution to the Jets quarterback quandary.