NY Jets, Sam Darnold
2. Winner: NY Jets general manager Joe Douglas
Many pundits of the Jets and Darnold loyalists will disagree with this assertion, and perhaps years from now, Douglas will end up being the ultimate loser in this scenario. But as of today, it’s hard to argue the fact that the Jets are finally being built in Joe Douglas’s vision.
It’s his team now.
In many ways, like Sam Darnold, Joe Douglas finally gets to hit the reset button and start all over. After all, for better or worse, Douglas inherited Darnold. He didn’t draft him.
This has been an offseason where Douglas was given the authority to pick his own head coach, and now with the second pick of the 2021 NFL Draft, Douglas gets the opportunity to draft his own franchise quarterback.
It’s pretty clear, barring a last-second turn of events, that BYU standout QB Zach Wilson is going to be the chosen one. Douglas is staking his legacy on the wunderkind quarterback. Ultimately, his choice will decide the franchise’s fate in the next decade.
From a football business standpoint, everything about trading Darnold makes sense. It clears up cap room for the future and buys the team a new franchise quarterback in a five-year window. The return for Darnold, who is a reclamation project until proven otherwise, was respectable.
The Jets are getting three draft picks for a player on the last legs of his tenure with Gang Green. The shadow of Sam Darnold could’ve adversely affected Zach Wilson and stunted his growth.
Both players would’ve welcomed the competition, but Douglas has made his choice quite clear moving forward. He’s handing the keys of the entire franchise over to Wilson.
From an overall team standpoint, no GM has set up the Jets franchise for more potential success than Douglas has than with the 21 draft picks the team has over the next two years.
Douglas is getting a new franchise quarterback to go along with his new head coach, and he’s got the ammunition to make it work.
Whether or not he achieves that remains to be seen, but getting to this point as a general manager is a victory for him. Hopefully, for the Jets’ sake, it’s not a short-lived one.
Next: 3. Winner: The Carolina Panthers