Sam Darnold Wouldn't Have Been Traded If Jets Didn't Have No. 2 Pick, Per GM

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVApril 6, 2021

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold warms up before an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The New York Jets traded Sam Darnold Monday because they know they can find his replacement with the No. 2 pick of the 2021 NFL draft.

"Having the No. 2 pick, I think it’s safe to say if our pick was a little bit later we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now," general manager Joe Douglas told reporters Tuesday. "We’d be comfortable moving ahead with Sam."

Douglas essentially confirmed the Jets will be targeting a quarterback with the second overall pick:

Jets Videos @snyjets

Is it fair to say the Jets are locked in to a QB at #2?<br><br>"That's a fair assessment, you can see the direction we're heading" pic.twitter.com/JTvjBHKbQS

New York's position in the draft allowed it to trade Darnold to the Carolina Panthers Monday in exchange for three draft picks, including a sixth-round pick in 2021.

The team considered holding onto Darnold while still drafting a quarterback No. 2 overall, but Douglas decided against it.

"Ultimately we felt that wouldn’t be the best situation for Sam, the rookie quarterback, coach Saleh, his staff and the locker room," the GM said.

Trevor Lawrence is considered the consensus No. 1 pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, leaving the Jets with numerous top options including Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones.

Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com projected Wilson to New York, saying he would be "shocked" if the BYU quarterback didn't end up being the No. 2 overall pick.

With no other proven quarterbacks on the roster, it appears the rookie would get a chance to start Week 1 for a team looking to rebound from last year's 2-14 campaign.