NY Jets, Sam Darnold Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
It was an inevitability going into the offseason that the NY Jets were going to listen to offers surrounding the movement of current quarterback Sam Darnold. Whether or not the team would keep him around as the starter next year was unclear.
That was until reports began circulating about multiple teams calling with interest in the former USC product. It was speculated at first that the Jets would likely not receive much in return for the former third overall pick.
Now, there are murmurs about New York possibly receiving a late first-round pick in exchange for Darnold’s services. At that asking price, it would be next to impossible to say no.
If those rumors turn out to be true, it would be safe to say that Darnold has played his final game as a member of the Jets.
Going forward with the idea of this trade going through, it would mean that the Jets would clearly address the situation at quarterback.
The option of using their draft capital to surround Sam Darnold is still an option that management is surely evaluating. However, we will move forward with the idea of what should happen if Darnold is shipped off for a late first-round pick.
Let’s start with the facts. If Darnold is moved for such a high price, it means that the Jets would lay claim to three first-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. No matter the team, that is an incredible haul that a team like New York desperately needs.
The Jets would also have seven draft picks in the top 100. Not bad for a team with a ton of holes to fill.
With three firsts to play with, the Jets would have a lot to think about. We’ll take a look at the top three scenarios that New York could complete going into the 2021 season.
Next: 1. A free agent bombshell
NY Jets, Sam Darnold Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
1. The NY Jets could sign a quarterback in free agency
This one is based around another organization. Namely, the Dallas Cowboys and Dak Prescott.
It would be absurd to think that Dak Prescott will not sign a long-term deal with Dallas this offseason. At least, that would be the case with most organizations. Dak Prescott is likely giving Cowboys fans flashbacks to the Washington situation with Kirk Cousins.
Multiple franchise tags later and Cousins plays for Minnesota, while the Washington Football Team still searches for their signal-caller of the future.
Truth be told, Jerry Jones should have already inked Prescott to a multi-year deal by now. However, he is still set to become a free agent come the new league year. That is where the Jets could bust the league wide open.
Prescott wasn’t just having a career-best season in 2020 before his injury. He was having one for the record books. Throwing for nearly 2,000 yards in just five games played. That was on pace for almost 6,000 yards for the entire season.
If we assume that the Cowboys allow Prescott to walk in free agency, and the Jets sign him, they now have a franchise quarterback without giving up even a single draft pick.
That means they can use their picks to bring in some much-needed help for their new quarterback. A trade down from the second overall pick could add even more ammunition for the Jets to use to fix the team.
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This is a scenario that has not been explored much, mostly because of the likelihood that Dak Prescott remains in Dallas as their quarterback for the foreseeable future. Franchise quarterbacks like Prescott don’t often hit the open market.
Adding an early-round receiver like Ja’Marr Chase or Devonta Smith, paired with Denzel Mims, would be like Christmas for the talented quarterback.
If he does, then there is absolutely no reason that the Jets shouldn’t hand him a blank check.
Next: 2. A rumored trade
2. The NY Jets could trade for Deshaun Watson
It’s already been rumored that the Jets are in the running to land Deshaun Watson for a few weeks now. The Clemson product is clearly at ends with the Houston Texans and has requested a trade that the team kept quiet until recently.
The Texans have also seemingly done everything in their power to cool the flames with gasoline, even firing the team’s equipment manager that the players absolutely loved.
As of now, the Texans claim to not be interested in shopping Watson to another team. They appear to be determined to fix their relationship with the quarterback, although they are doing so in a strange way.
Imagining if the Jets obtain a late first-round pick for Sam Darnold, the package offered to the Texans would be that much more enticing. It’s assumed at this point that if the Texans were to trade Watson, they would expect a massive haul of draft picks and players in return.
Deshaun Watson isn’t a risky trade either. Watson led the league in passing yards in 2020 despite his team’s lack of success. Moving from Houston to New York would be an upgrade in surrounding talent, which is an odd thought in itself.
The worry does not come in whether or not Watson will be the quarterback the Jets need, but if the haul needed to bring in his talents would be worth it.
Should the Jets obtain a third first-round pick for this upcoming draft, it’s almost certain that they will send most if not all to Houston for Deshaun Watson. In a vacuum, that is a no brainer. However, the Jets still have glaring needs at wide receiver, defensive back, edge rusher, and more.
If they sell the farm for Watson, which is a trade that will almost certainly include future first-round picks, the Jets must rely on free agency and late-round selections to pan out in order to fill their roster’s glaring holes.
Even so, Watson would still be a quarterback that would outshine the success of Broadway Joe.
Next: 3. The old fashioned way
NY Jets, Sam Darnold Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
3. The NY Jets could build through the draft
For the moment, it seems that this is the most likely option for the Jets franchise. If the Texans are adamant about not trading Deshaun Watson, then Joe Douglas will have no choice but to take the best quarterback prospect he deems fit for New York.
Not to say that drafting a quarterback would even be a bad thing. It’s a guarantee that the Jacksonville Jaguars will draft Trevor Lawrence, but the options at No. 2 aren’t too shabby themselves.
Zach Wilson has established a name for himself coming out of college, with the drive and talent for success. Justin Fields isn’t a terrible consolation prize either, showing off in an incredible way in the College Football Playoff.
This scenario is similar to that of the free agency route spoken about earlier. The difference is that the Jets have one less draft pick to play around with. There is still plenty of talent available in the late first-round, much of which would fill out the New York roster.
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Cornerbacks like Jaycee Horn, Caleb Farley, and Eric Stokes may still be on the board to claim as the heir to Revis Island. Offensive linemen in Wyatt Davis or Creed Humphrey could be the interior protection the team needs to keep their new signal-caller upright.
Say Joe Douglas is not a fan of the earlier prospects. Trading down from the second overall pick and drafting a different position of need instead of a quarterback early on is now a possibility.
Thanks to the third first-rounder the Jets would have in their back pocket, more raw players like Mac Jones or Kyle Trask that need time to season and develop are now brought into the light as viable options.
Sam Darnold was thought to be the franchise savior when the Jets traded up for him in 2018. Sadly, it hasn’t worked out, and it appears that both sides could benefit from moving on.
If the team nets a first-round pick for him, it makes the future of the team that much brighter.