NY Jets: Winners and losers of the Sam Darnold trade

NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
NY Jets, Sam Darnold (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /
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NY Jets Mandatory Credit: George Frey/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets Mandatory Credit: George Frey/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports /

5. Loser: Zach Wilson

For the sake of the Jets and their fanbase, Zach Wilson has to be a great quarterback. There’s no getting around it. The amount of pressure that Wilson will have as the newly-anointed savior of the Jets’ franchise is going to be enormous.

That’s always the case with any quarterback that is drafted in the top-five of any draft, like, for example,  the San Francisco 49ers QB choice at three, who their team just gave up three first-round picks for.

But in Zach Wilson’s situation, the circumstances before him and after he is drafted by the Jets will only add to the scrutiny and expectations hoisted onto his shoulders. The kid already has his fair share of detractors, and he hasn’t even stepped into a Jets uniform yet.

While many realists do not expect the Jets to be playoff contenders in 2021, there’s no evading the fact that Wilson will be judged differently than your standard rookie.

He will forever be compared to other high-profile quarterbacks in this class like Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Trey Lance, etc. Ultimately, Wilson will forever be compared to the Jets’ last franchise quarterback in Sam Darnold.

The amount of heartbreak and turmoil that Jets fans have already endured will only be accelerated to the umpteenth degree if Darnold becomes a star in Carolina while Wilson isn’t one in New York.

The naysayers and non-believers of the Jets expect that exact scenario to become a reality in the future. And the truth is that it could play out that way in 2021, with Darnold in a better situation to thrive in his fourth year than Wilson will have as a rookie.

Zach Wilson has to be great. It’s unfair, but it’s the reality of where he is being selected and to whom he will be playing.

Wilson is by no means a loser. He overcame a lot of adversity early in his college career, rededicated himself, and evolved as a true superstar quarterback at BYU.

He’s earned the right based on his dynamic skill-set and production in 2020 to be drafted at the position. He will be less than a month from now.

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While Wilson has plenty of detractors based on his unique style of play and competition level, many see his potential for greatness on the next level. Obviously, Douglas and the Jets share in that vision. They traded Sam Darnold because of Zach Wilson.

Wilson is capable of making the spectacular play look so effortless. His highlight reel is overflowing with moments where he makes the impossible look possible.

And it’s done with such poise and swagger. With the Jets, the hope is that the difficulties awaiting Wilson won’t faze him, making what appears to be a daunting challenge simple.

Just like his throws.

NFL fans are greedy. A lot of the teams that draft rookie quarterbacks want their guy to be the next Justin Herbert. A quarterback that was a superstar record-breaking player in year one.

Not all great quarterbacks start as well as Herbert did with the Chargers. See Peyton Manning, who led the league with 28 interceptions and completed only 56 percent of his passes as a rookie back in 1998.

Whether it’s fair or not, Wilson will not be afforded or allowed the same type of growing pains that many young quarterbacks have experienced over the years. Even Darnold was afforded some slack early on by the media and fans.

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Zach Wilson won’t get the same treatment. He’s being put on a high pedestal by so many, and if he meets or matches those lofty expectations, then the Jets franchise will finally be on their way toward having what they thought they would have with Sam Darnold.

A superstar franchise quarterback that turns the Jets into winners.