Sam Darnold Trade Rumors: Broncos Pursued QB Before Jets-Panthers Deal

Jenna CiccotelliCorrespondent IIApril 6, 2021

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold rolls out to pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The New York Jets reportedly had options when it came to shopping Sam Darnold.

Though Darnold ultimately went to the Carolina Panthers, the Denver Broncos also pursued the quarterback, according to Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

The Jets received a sixth-round pick in the 2021 draft and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 from the Panthers.

Darnold signed a four-year, $30.2 million deal with the Jets after they selected him with the No. 3 pick in 2018, but he was never able to hit his potential ceiling with the team. He went 13-25 through 38 games with New York, with 45 touchdowns and 8,097 yards on a 59.8 completion percentage.

The Jets are likely looking ahead to the draft at the end of the month, where they'll have the chance to select one of the top collegiate quarterbacks with the No. 2 overall pick—and become the first team to draft two quarterbacks with a top-three pick in the draft within a four-year span.

On Monday, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer told reporters that Darnold wasn't necessarily considered an immediate starter over Teddy Bridgewater.

"I think he's a starting-level quarterback, just like I think Teddy's a starting-level quarterback," Fitterer said. "So I think these guys could push each other, make each other better and then we'll make the best decision when it's time."

While Hughes didn't say what exactly drove the Broncos away from Darnold, ESPN's Todd McShay reported Monday that he doesn't think the Broncos have "given up on Drew Lock" (h/t Aric DiLalla of DenverBroncos.com).

Lock is entering the third year of his rookie contract, having made 18 starts in Denver with a 59.1 completion percentage, 3,953 yards and 23 touchdowns.

While Lock is currently the quarterback in Denver, the Broncos could still select another NFL-ready signal-caller if there's one to be had when they select at No. 9.