Whether that be via a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson or in the 2021 NFL Draft, there are plenty of people that believe the Jets will ultimately find Darnold’s replacement this offseason.
But at the moment, it’s safe to say that no decision has been made.
That being said, the Jets are clearly exploring their options, as evidenced by their reported interest in former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. If the Jets were to trade Darnold, what could they expect to receive in return?
The speculation has been that Darnold could recoup the Jets a second-rounder and perhaps a late-round pick. However, ESPN’s Adam Schefter revealed on Tuesday that he could go for more than what was initially expected.
Schefter discussed Darnold’s trade value on the Haberman & Middlekauff podcast and revealed that despite going into the offseason believing he’d fetch a second-rounder, he now believes that Darnold could go for as high as a late first-round pick.
Could the NY Jets actually get a first-round pick for Sam Darnold?
Darnold’s play over the first three years of his career has been less-than-stellar, to say the least. While he improved from year one to year two, he took a major step back in 2020 playing his worst football since his college days.
The former USC star finished with just nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 12 games while completing under 60 percent of his passes. He was perhaps the worst starting quarterback in the NFL this past season.
But at 23-years-old, there might be a team or two out there willing to take a chance on him. It wasn’t long ago that Darnold was considered one of the best young quarterback prospects in the league.
If the Jets were to receive a late first-round pick, the most likely trade partners would be the Chicago Bears (20), Indianapolis Colts (21), Pittsburgh Steelers (24), and New Orleans Saints (28).
All four of those teams could be in the QB market this offseason and might see Darnold as a potential solution. The Colts, in particular, make sense given the Rex Hogan connection and their desire for a long-term solution at the position.
New Orleans also seems plausible but their tricky cap situation could get in the way. Darnold’s looming fifth-year option will cost his team about $25 million, a steep price for any organization given his poor play.
The Jets will likely have plenty of suitors for Sam Darnold if they do decide to move on. And if a bidding war ensues, it seems very feasible that they could receive a first-round pick in return.