The Jets seem to be eyeing Darnold’s replacement with the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, a pick that many believe will be used on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
And if that’s the case, the Jets will trade Darnold, contrary to what some seem to believe. But at this stage, what could the Jets realistically expect to receive in return for the former No. 3 overall pick?
Earlier in the offseason, there were talks that the Jets could receive as high as a late first-round pick for Darnold. At the very least, his going rate seemed to be a second-round pick plus an additional late-round selection.
However, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.
Recent reports suggest the Jets might not get much more than a third-round pick for the 23-year-old signal-caller. Is this a product of the Jets waiting too long or was his market never as active as previously reported?
It’s probably a combination of the two. Either way, the Jets are likely to ship him to the highest bidder in the coming weeks, possibly as late as Day 2 or 3 of the draft.
We’ve run through some possible trade scenarios for Darnold in the past, but why not get a little creative this time around? If the Jets want to maximize the return they get for Darnold, they might need to be a little inventive with their requests.
Let’s take a look at three creative trade packages for Sam Darnold.
Next: 3. Exchanging future picks
3. NY Jets trade Sam Darnold to the Washington Football Team
It’s been made clear that general manager Joe Douglas would prefer to receive 2021 draft picks in return for Darnold. But if he’s set on returning a second-round pick, he might need to go the future route.
We have the Washington Football Team sending their 2022 second-round pick to the Jets in exchange for Darnold and one of the Jets’ two fifth-rounders in 2022 (they have two as a result of the Avery Williamson trade).
Washington signed Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency to pair with postseason standout Taylor Heinicke, but they reportedly remain interested in Darnold’s market.
This move makes sense for both teams as it allows Washington to acquire a younger quarterback with some upside to compete with Fitzpatrick and Heinicke without having to give up significant draft capital.
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And for the Jets, this would give them two picks in each of the first two rounds next offseason to further build their roster.
To make things fairer, the Jets also send one of their future fifths back to Washington as a future second-round pick straight-up for Darnold might be too hefty of a price tag for general manager Martin Mayhew.
Ideally, the Jets would make a move for picks that could help the team out this year. But if the value isn’t there, why not acquire a pick that could end up in the top-50 a year later?
It’s certainly worth considering.
Next: 2. Part of a trade up
2. NY Jets trade Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers
The Jets could also look to maximize Darnold’s value in a trade as part of a trade-up. In this case, we look at a possible trade-up with the Carolina Panthers who might be desperate enough to make a deal for Darnold.
While it would be great for the Jets to move from 23 all the way up to No. 8 where the Carolina Panthers pick in the first round, they would have to give up a lot more than just Darnold to make that work.
That’s why a more reasonable trade-up sees the Jets package Darnold and pick No. 66 at the beginning of the third round to move up 27 slots to No. 39 where the Panthers select in Round 2.
This would allow the Jets to select their fourth top-40 player of the draft as they continue to build around their new rookie quarterback.
Using Draft Tek’s trade value chart, we could determine the generally agreed-upon value for moving up from 66 to 39 would be around 250 points. Or in other terms, equivalent to the No. 68 overall pick in the draft.
I think it’s fair to say that a high third-round pick could be Darnold’s value at this point, making it a fair deal for both sides. As a little extra motivation, the Panthers throw in a compensatory sixth-rounder at pick No. 227 giving the Jets their 10th overall selection.
Carolina has struck out on the quarterback market all offseason and trading for Darnold would at least give them a QB with a bit more upset than the incumbent Teddy Bridgewater.
They’re in an unenviable position right now, which might make them desperate enough to target Darnold as an upgrade.
Next: 1. Conditions may apply
1. NY Jets trade Sam Darnold to the Chicago Bears
After three professional seasons, most of the NFL still doesn’t know exactly what Sam Darnold is. A product of an abysmal situation, Darnold remains one of the greatest wild-cards in the league.
He has the natural talent to be a very good NFL starter, but he’s failed to develop through his first three NFL seasons. Any team that trades for him would be taking a risk and hoping that he could finally realize his potential.
That’s why including a conditional draft pick makes a ton of sense.
Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace is fighting for his job this season. After numerous failures at the quarterback position, Pace is apparently set to hedge his future on the likes of Andy Dalton and Nick Foles.
However, it would probably be a bit more sensible to take a chance on someone like Darnold in an effort to save his job.
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We have the Bears sending the Jets a conditional second-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft — a conditional pick that could become a third-rounder. What would the conditions of said pick be?
They could be anything from playing time (requires a certain percentage of snaps played/games started) to performance-based conditions. Either way, the Bears would need Darnold to play in 2021 and play well.
The Bears also throw in a 2021 sixth-round pick so the Jets recoup some draft capital that they could use this year.
This trade has the greatest upside for the Jets as it offers the most potential value, but it also offers the greatest downside if Darnold plays poorly or doesn’t play at all in Chicago.
It makes sense for both squads, especially if the Jets are confident that Darnold will earn playing time elsewhere.