3 Trade Scenarios the New York Jets Must Consider with No. 2 Pick in NFL Draft
Outside of the Jacksonville Jaguars—who got the No. 1 pick after the Jets won two of their last three games of the season—no one is armed for an overhaul quite like Gang Green. Adam Gase is gone and the Jets have a projected $68.6 million in cap space with few players worth retaining and eating into that number.
The Miami Dolphins, who went from 5-11 to 10-6 after one offseason of rebuilding, should be a beacon of hope. They remodeled the defense through free agency, drafted Tua Tagovailoa and made a quick turnaround.
The conventional wisdom is that this rebuild will start with the Jets drafting either Zach Wilson of BYU or Ohio State's Justin Fields with the second overall pick, but general manager Joe Douglas should be looking at all options.
Adam Schefter of ESPN has reported the team will either look to trade quarterback Sam Darnold or the No. 2 selection.
Here are a few scenarios that would be worth exploring and what a potential deal might look like.
San Francisco 49ers Trade Up for a Quarterback
49ers Receive: No. 2 pick
Jets Receive: No. 12 pick, No. 108 pick, 2022 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick
With three quarterbacks figuring to go in the top 10 between Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields and Zach Wilson, the San Francisco 49ers are on the outside looking in. With the 12th pick, the Niners will be relegated to Mac Jones or Kyle Trask if they want to find Jimmy Garoppolo's replacement.
Instead, they could trade up to select Fields or Wilson and trust that Kyle Shanahan will be able to build an offense around either of them that would justify giving up serious draft capital. These types of trades don't happen often, and while the Jets couldn't expect a Robert Griffin III-type haul, the price would have to be steep.
In this scenario, the 49ers would have to be sure they want to move on from Garoppolo. The quarterback once again suffered from injuries in 2020 and can be traded or released with a dead-cap charge of just $2.8 million. He's only been healthy for one season as the team's starter.
During the season, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv reported Sam Darnold is "still seen as a valuable asset around the NFL." However, the Jets have done little, especially in the last year, to ensure his success.
Pulling the trigger on a deal like this would allow the Jets to give the 23-year-old one more shot with a new coach, a roster that will presumably be more competitive after free agency and the weapons they could draft with both the No. 12 pick and wherever the 49ers selection ends up.
If Darnold doesn't show signs of massive improvement in the next season, the Jets would be armed with several first-round picks in 2022 to go after their guy.
Cincinnati Bengals Trade Up for Penei Sewell
Bengals Receive: No. 2 pick
Jets Receive: No. 5 pick, No. 38 pick, 2022 second-round pick
This scenario is a callback to the move the Jets made to draft Darnold in the first place. They gave up three second-round picks to move from sixth to second in the 2018 draft to ensure they could take the USC product.
Getting that kind of price from the Bengals might not be realistic. They aren't in the hunt for a quarterback but getting two second-rounders in return while only moving back three slots would be a win for the Jets.
In this situation, the Jets aren't even out of the hunt for either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson. The Bengals already have Joe Burrow but now find themselves out of position to take the best tackle in the draft, Penei Sewell.
The Oregon product figures to be the best tackle in the class and would fill a huge void. The Bengals were unable to protect Burrow this season and he suffered a season-ending knee injury. The problem is the Dolphins now own the third pick via the Houston Texans. That puts a team with an obvious need at tackle ahead of them.
Trading up to No. 2 would allow them to secure Sewell and thus a safer future for Burrow. Meanwhile, the Jets would still be in the running for either Fields or Wilson unless the Dolphins and Falcons took the quarterbacks back-to-back.
That's a possibility but both have good reasons not to go that route. The Dolphins would be giving up on Tua Tagovailoa after just one season, and the Falcons would be adding a quarterback while Matt Ryan is set to carry prohibitive cap hits over the next two seasons.
Being able to draft either Fields or Wilson while adding even more draft capital would be a best-of-both-worlds situation for the Jets.
Miami Dolphins Want to Move on from Tua Tagovailoa
Dolphins Receive: No. 2 pick, No. 66 pick, 2022 third-round pick
Jets Receive: No. 3 pick, Tua Tagovailoa
This one is admittedly the most unprecedented of the three. It isn't often that a team is willing to trade a quarterback one season after drafting him in the top five in the previous talent grab.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported in October one of the reasons the Dolphins chose to start Tagovailoa over Ryan Fitzpatrick was because they wanted to know what they had in him before the 2021 draft. General manager Chris Grier came out and said he will be their quarterback in 2021, but Kliff Kingsbury said the same about Josh Rosen in February 2019.
Tagovailoa responded with strong play overall. He threw 11 touchdowns to five interceptions, and the Dolphins were 6-3 with him as the starter. But a three-interception performance in the season finale that caused Miami to miss the playoffs casts a shadow of doubt on his future with the team.
Giving up on a quarterback with Tagovailoa's potential and the promise he showed this early would be foolish, but if the Dolphins are willing to consider dealing him, the Jets should be lining up to listen.
Swapping picks with the Dolphins would give Miami its preferred choice between Justin Fields and Zach Wilson. Both have shown potential as franchise quarterbacks, but if the Dolphins are willing to part with Tagovailoa, it should be with a specific name in mind.
The move would allow the Jets to draft either Penei Sewell, who could pair with Mekhi Becton to be the best young tandem of tackles in the league, or Ja'Marr Chase while still putting a fresh face with star potential in at quarterback.
The closest analogy to this deal is the one the Browns pulled with the Minnesota Vikings in the 2012 draft to get Trent Richardson when they gave up a fourth-, fifth- and seventh-round pick to move from four to three. But this would be different as the stakes are always raised when it comes to quarterbacks.
This is a long shot, but if the Dolphins are serious about moving on from their quarterback, it's worth giving them a call.