Sam Darnold Trade Rumors: Jets to Evaluate Draft's QBs Before Deciding on Deal

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 22, 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)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

The New York Jets will wait to make a decision on Sam Darnold until they finish evaluating all of the quarterback prospects in the 2021 NFL draft, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Per Rapoport, the Jets have "received real interest" regarding a trade for Darnold, who was the third overall selection in 2018.

New York holds the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 draft and could have its choice between Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones, assuming Trevor Lawrence goes off the board at No. 1. Bleacher Report's Brad Gagnon projected the Jets to take Wilson in his latest mock draft, with five quarterbacks going off the board in the first 12 picks.   

Things did not go well for Darnold in 2020. He finished with just nine touchdown passes and 11 interceptions in 12 games. There were problems throughout the roster that led to the team's 2-14 record, but the quarterback had his own issues on his way to a 40.1 QBR, dead last in the NFL among 33 qualified players.

The 23-year-old was better in 2019 and has showed flashes of brilliance with his passing and his mobility, giving plenty of reason to believe in his upside if he can find more consistency. Other teams could buy low on a young player who could turn things around in a new system.

One problem for New York is it is likely still far from contention, and Darnold is heading into the final year of his rookie contract. The Jets could pick up the fifth-year option on their first-round pick. But his salary would cost about $25 million in 2022, and the team would still need to make a long-term decision soon.

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A trade would allow the Jets to start fresh while adding assets for the rebuild, although they must first feel confident the replacement will be an improvement.