Former NY Jets QB could land a starting job this offseason

Could Sam Darnold be the next Geno Smith?

Sam Darnold
Sam Darnold / Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Former NY Jets quarterback Geno Smith has managed to revitalize his career as the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks years after leaving the organization that drafted him. Could Sam Darnold be the next ex-Jets QB to follow that story arc?

Darnold hasn't found much success since leaving the Jets in 2021. A failed stint as the starting quarterback in Carolina paved the way for a backup role on the NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in 2023.

Now, Darnold is set to be a free agent again, and there are rumblings he could receive a starting job again this offseason. The Minnesota Vikings are the team to keep an eye on.

NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported last week that Darnold is a possible quarterback option for the Vikings if they don't re-sign Kirk Cousins this offseason. The Vikings could see Darnold as this year's Baker Mayfield, per Pelissero.

Sam Darnold could get another opportunity to be a starting QB in 2024

The third-overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Darnold spent three years as the Jets' starting quarterback. The former USC star was hindered by a poor supporting cast and an incompetent offensive staff, and it didn't come as much of a surprise when the Jets traded him prior to the 2021 draft.

It would be nice to see Darnold get a crack at a starting job with a competent supporting cast, though. His development was stunted by awful situations with the Jets and Panthers. The Vikings present an intriguing opportunity for the former collegiate star.

Minnesota has a highly-regarded offensive staff, led by head coach Kevin O'Connell, an above-average offensive line, and a talented skill position group featuring All-Pro wide receiver Justin Jefferson.

The idea would be for the Vikings to bring Darnold in to compete for the starting job with a rookie quarterback. Said rookie QB could sit and develop behind Darnold if they're not ready to start.

The Seattle Seahawks and Tampa Bay Buccaneers opted for similar approaches, having younger QBs Drew Lock and Kyle Trask, respectively, develop behind Geno Smith and Baker Mayfield. Smith and Mayfield performed so well in their roles that they never relinquished the starting job.

Darnold's path to redemption could look very similar if the Vikings give him a shot this offseason. Pelissero's report suggested that Cousins could price himself out of a return to Minnesota.

If that's the case, expect Darnold to be near the top of their list of potential bridge quarterback options.