NY Jets: Why JuJu Smith-Schuster connection means nothing for Sam Darnold

NY Jets, JuJu Smith-Schuster Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets, JuJu Smith-Schuster Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The NY Jets are reportedly having conversations with free-agent wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Their interest in Smith-Schuster is hardly surprising and, as one could imagine, it’s led to rampant speculation about the future of quarterback Sam Darnold.

After all, Darnold and Smith-Schuster spent time together at USC with the two putting together an impressive 2016 campaign during the former’s freshman season.

Darnold and Smith-Schuster have history, and the latter has been especially complimentary of his former college teammate since joining the NFL.

In a September interview, Smith-Schuster remarked how he would love to play with Darnold again and that he believes the 23-year-old is supremely talented.

“I played with Sam Darnold in college. He was a great player, led us to a Rose Bowl and ended up winning it in a shootout against Saquon and them. There’s no doubt that he has the ‘it’ factor in him. The NFL is a lot different now, schemes and all that other stuff. I think it just takes time. I think his time is coming soon. Right now, I think it’s tough.

That’s my guy. If we could get him to Pittsburgh I would love it, but I love Ben, so it is what it is.”

Smith-Schuster would undoubtedly love to join Darnold in New York. The only problem is, Darnold’s future remains very uncertain.

The NY Jets/JuJu Smith-Schuster connection has nothing to do with Sam Darnold

Despite what many seem to believe, it’s hard to imagine that the Jets’ interest in Smith-Schuster has anything to do with their plans at the quarterback position.

For starters, the Jets weren’t interested in his market until his price point came down. The 24-year-old wasn’t an initial target of theirs — they’re just taking advantage of an opportunity in the market.

Not to mention, Smith-Schuster is an excellent fit in new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur’s system. His blend of speed and YAC ability should certainly intrigue the Jets.

A lot more than his brief one-year history with Darnold.

In fact, Smith-Schuster spent more time at USC with Cody Kessler as his quarterback — he and Darnold only overlapped for one season.

The Jets are looking to add weapons on offense in any way they can. Whether that’s for Darnold or his eventual replacement is uncertain, but it’s far-fetched to imagine that their interest in Smith-Schuster (only after his value came down) is proof of anything.

If the Jets were to sign Adam Humphries, would that mean they were trading for Deshaun Watson? The duo spent two years together at Clemson and Humphries has been especially complimentary of Watson in the NFL.

Of course, that wouldn’t mean anything. Just like the Smith-Schuster rumors don’t mean anything either.

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All signs still point to the Jets moving on from Sam Darnold this offseason. But even if they plan to keep him, their interest in JuJu Smith-Schuster has nothing to do with it.