Sam Darnold could be the next player traded in an already wild quarterback carousel this offseason. Following the Carson Wentz trade, the New York Jets former No. 3 overall pick now stands out as the likeliest quarterback to be moved before the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Jets have already made significant changes this offseason, putting much of the old regime behind them. Robert Saleh is taking over as head coach and Mike LaFleur will be serving as the team’s offensive coordinator. While many expected the new coaching staff would commit to Darnold, the franchise quarterback hopeful didn’t receive that vote of confidence.
With the Houston Texans unwilling to trade Deshaun Watson and the Las Vegas Raiders keeping Derek Carr, New York suddenly has the top available quarterback on the market. Unsurprisingly, the front office is setting a fairly high asking price to trade Sam Darnold.
NFL rumors: New York Jets want second-round pick for Sam Darnold
According to SportsNet New York’s Ralph Vacchiano, New York’s asking price in a Darnold trade isn’t expected to change after the Wentz deal. If an NFL team wants to convince Saleh and general manager Joe Douglas to part with their young quarterback, it will take a second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Jets certainly aren’t ready to give away the player who they spent the No. 3 pick on in the 2018 NFL Draft. They passed on 2019 NFL MVP Lamar Jackson and star quarterback Josh Allen, so getting a small return would make things even more painful. With that said, it’s asking quite a bit for teams to give up an early Day 2 pick for Darnold.
He was certainly held back by Adam Gase and one of the worst supporting casts in the NFL. It stunted the development of a young quarterback who everyone knew needed time and the right situation to be molded into a franchise quarterback. But New York threw him into the fire immediately and the results were disastrous.
Across three seasons as a starter, Darnold has completed just 59.8% of his 1,219 pass attempts. Just as alarming, he averaged just 6.6 yards per attempt over that span and had a 78.6 passer rating in 38 games. It was even uglier this past season, with a 59.6% completion rate and 72.7 passer rating, all paired with a 9-11 TD-INT ratio.
Entering the fourth year of his rookie contract, any team acquiring him would surely have reservations about picking up that costly fifth-year option. He hasn’t proven to be worth a significant raise thus far, but that would also be the organization’s only option if they don’t want him to be a free agent in 2022.
With all that said, there are still general managers who recognize a cheap asset and coaches confident they could correct Darnold’s issues. Plus, this is still a 23-year-old quarterback who has the physical talent to potentially be a reliable starter. If a quarterback-needy team is sitting during the 2021 NFL Draft and sees Justin Fields, Zach Wilson and Trey Lance off the board, trading a second-round pick for Darnold might be the best option.