NY Jets wouldn’t have traded Sam Darnold if they had a lower pick

NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images) /

NY Jets‘ general manager Joe Douglas spoke to the media on Tuesday following the trade of quarterback Sam Darnold a day earlier. And he shared a few interesting tidbits about the team’s mindset this offseason.

Perhaps the most interesting came when he was asked what the Jets would have done if they didn’t have the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Douglas spoke highly of Darnold and even insisted that they would have been comfortable moving forward with the former USC star had they been picking lower than second overall.

He later said that it was a “fair assessment” that the Jets would be drafting a quarterback with their top pick, all but confirming what everyone already knew to this point.

The NY Jets could have kept Sam Darnold in a different reality

If the Jets were picking somewhere in the middle to back-end of the top-10, we’re likely not having the Darnold discussions this offseason.

Not only would that mean the Jets finished somewhere around 6-10, likely indicating that Darnold played significantly better, but it would also mean the Jets wouldn’t have the golden opportunity they have right now.

As Douglas stated, the Jets are very high on this year’s quarterback class. Just as the rest of the NFL is. They have had their eyes on drafting a QB for quite some time now — potentially a specific QB.

Another quote from Douglas that was very telling seemed to point to exactly who the Jets were targeting with that No. 2 overall pick.

When asked about Steve Young’s comments earlier this month where the NFL Hall of Famer (and BYU alumnus) noted that the Jets were “committed” to Zach Wilson, Douglas responded by saying “Steve’s plugged-in to BYU pretty well.”

He didn’t confirm or deny Young’s comments, but his first response coupled with a light-hearted chuckle seemed to be the closest to a confirmation that he could provide.

Combine that with the actions from NFL teams in recent weeks (the 49ers and Eagles trades) and it seems pretty obvious that the Jets are targeting Wilson.

Perhaps in a different reality, the Jets hold on to Sam Darnold for another year. If they were picking lower in the draft and Darnold had shown more promise in 2020, then perhaps he’s still the quarterback going forward.

But that isn’t the reality we’re living in.

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The Jets finished 2-14 last year. Darnold was arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. And for those reasons, the Jets made the decision that they did.