NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets will have an abundance of different routes they could take to address the quarterback position this offseason. And given the importance of the decision, the storyline has dominated offseason headlines.
Incumbent quarterback Sam Darnold struggled mightily in 2020, but could a new coaching staff be enough to salvage his career in New York? The Jets haven’t ruled out Darnold returning.
If the Jets do decide to move on, the most likely outcome seems to be that they’d find his replacement in the 2021 NFL Draft. BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields would be the two obvious contenders.
However, the everpresent Deshaun Watson situation continues to loom.
Watson is unhappy in Houston (who could blame him?) and seems intent on not playing another game with the Texans. The organization has no plans to trade him right now, but he could force their hand.
And the Jets are in a prime position to capitalize.
On the surface, those seem like the most probable picks to be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback. Either they stick with Darnold, draft either Wilson or Fields to replace him, or make a blockbuster trade for Watson.
But those aren’t their only options.
Now it should be noted that the following three QB options aren’t necessarily the most probable nor the most appealing. But they are options — and that’s what we’re counting here.
Let’s take a look at three unexpected players who could be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback in 2021.
Next: 3. Carson Wentz
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3. Carson Wentz could be the NY Jets’ 2021 starting QB
The Jets probably aren’t going to trade for Carson Wentz. The Philadelphia Eagles’ absurd reported asking price will likely prevent that. But let’s just humor this idea for a moment.
Say the asking price has been completely exaggerated as somewhat of a smokescreen. The Jets could theoretically hop in and take Wentz’s contract off the Eagles’ hands.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Wentz is the long-term solution. Far from it.
While not quite as bad as Darnold was last season, it wouldn’t make much sense to replace the struggling former USC star with a more expensive, equally ineffective quarterback — even if the same excuses could be used for his supporting cast.
Rather, Wentz would give the Jets a capable veteran quarterback to ideally have a rookie develop under. Truthfully speaking, it’s hard to imagine that any team views Wentz and his contract as a true asset.
Never overestimate the intelligence of certain NFL front offices, but it seems entirely unreasonable that a team would be willing to part ways with any significant draft capital to take on Wentz’s contract.
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For that reason, if the Eagles are truly intent on parting ways with Wentz and they don’t receive the offers they’re asking for, it might be wise to trade for Wentz as part of a salary dump.
Perhaps the Eagles even send the Jets some draft picks to do it, something along the lines of a Brock Osweiler or Jared Goff trade.
Again, this is an unlikely scenario given what we’ve heard. And Wentz wouldn’t be the long-term solution. But he is a player that could feasibly be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback in some alternate reality.
Next: 2. Trey Lance
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
2. Trey Lance could be the NY Jets’ 2021 starting QB
Now on to a more realistic, albeit still not likely option. While the attention has rightfully been on Zach Wilson and Justin Fields, there is another quarterback prospect expected to be selected inside the top-10 that the Jets could consider.
North Dakota State’s Trey Lance promises to be one of the most tantalizing prospects in this year’s class. With only one year of production at an FCS school, Lance is understandably extremely raw.
But you’d be hard-pressed to find a more physically gifted quarterback to enter the draft in the last few years. Think of him in a similar vein to Josh Allen coming out of Wyoming.
Top-notch arm talent combined with extraordinary size and athleticism gives Lance the potential to be a top-five quarterback in the NFL. But at just 20-years-old, he still has a lot of room to grow.
General manager Joe Douglas is someone who has shown to favor traits over polish as evidenced by his selections of guys like Mekhi Becton, Denzel Mims, and Ashtyn Davis a year ago. Lance certainly fits that bill.
Now, if the Jets were to shock the football world and select Lance second overall, it likely wouldn’t be wise for him to enter Week 1 as the starter. But if Lance were to show out in training camp, it’s certainly plausible that he starts.
Lance might not be receiving the same attention as Wilson and Fields, but there will be teams out there who have him as QB2 in this class. Will the Jets be one of those teams? Probably not, but you never know.
It would be shocking, but Trey Lance might just be the Jets’ Week 1 starting quarterback in 2021.
Next: 1. Dak Prescott
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
1. Dak Prescott could be the NY Jets’ 2021 starting QB
Of all the options on this list, this one is probably the most appealing. But it’s also far from likely.
The Dallas Cowboys find themselves in quite a cap bind after numerous questionable decisions in recent years. And now they face a dilemma with star quarterback Dak Prescott.
Prescott was on his way to perhaps the best season of his NFL career in 2020 before a devastating ankle injury put an end to his campaign. Needing a new contract in the offseason, the Cowboys must figure out a plan.
They’re not just going to let him walk. Prescott is far too valuable to simply cut ties with and let sign with a new team in free agency.
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For Dallas, there are two hopeful scenarios here. Either they place the franchise tag on him again and take the $37 million cap hit, giving Prescott all the leverage next offseason, or they find a way to come to terms on a long-term deal this offseason.
Or, if worst comes to worst, they tag and trade him to the highest bidder. While it doesn’t seem likely that it comes to that, the Jets would be at the top of the list of potential suitors.
Prescott is an undisputed top-10 quarterback in the NFL and would instantly be the best quarterback the Jets have had in decades — possibly since Joe Namath.
And the good news is that he likely wouldn’t cost as much as Deshaun Watson, although the Cowboys could drive a hard bargain.
In all likelihood, Prescott stays in Dallas for one more year at the very least. But if not, expect the Jets to be all over the former Offensive Rookie of the Year.