Sam Darnold Rumors: Latest Trade Buzz on Seahawks, Potential Suitors for Jets QB

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2021

FILE - New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold rolls out to pass against the New England Patriots in the first half of an NFL football game in Foxborough, Mass., in this Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, file photo. The 23-year-old quarterback was considered an untouchable player on the roster only a year ago. General manager Joe Douglas has backed off that stance, though, and it could signal a major change at the position as free agency and the NFL draft approach. “I will answer the call if it's made,” Douglas said Wednesday, March 3, 2021, when asked if he'd listen to offers for Darnold from other teams. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)
Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Though free agency has yet to officially begin, the quarterback market is already humming along.

Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff and Carson Wentz were traded earlier in the offseason. Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick have both come off the market since the legal tampering period began on Monday.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Winston has agreed to return to the New Orleans Saints on a one-year, $12 million deal. Fitzpatrick will get a one-year deal worth $10 million from the Washington Football Team, also per Schefter.

With Cam Newton returning to the New England Patriots, the pool of available quarterbacks is beginning to turn shallow. This could lead some teams to trade for a signal-caller. Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson have been the two biggest names circulating the rumor mill.

However, New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold could also be in the trade mix. In fact, there's a good chance he will be. The Jets own the No. 2 pick in the draft and could take either Clemson's Trevor Lawrence or BYU's Zach Wilson with the selection—whichever quarterback doesn't go No. 1.

While the idea of Darnold as an enticing trade chip might seem laughable to some—he certainly isn't as accomplished as Wilson or Watson—teams are expected to show interest. According to TheMMQB's Albert Breer, a quarter of the league could, in fact, be interested:

"Status quo on the Sam Darnold front, with Darnold likely to be the next QB domino to fall. So what I told you last week stands: Eight teams have been in contact with the Jets about Darnold, and the team would like to see Wilson and Fields throw live at theit pro days before making a final call, but has relayed some flexibility on that to other teams."

Breer didn't go into detail about who those teams might be, but the San Francisco 49ers may not be one of them.

"The response I've received on the Sam Darnold situation is, 'Do not expect the 49ers to be in it,'" NFL Network's Ian Rapoport said on the Murph and Mac Podcast. "Maybe it could change. I guess, theoretically, anything is possible."

However, one particular San Francisco rival could be in a different spot.

"Keep an eye on Seattle for Darnold," a source told Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

Per Leonard, Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll has a high opinion of the 23-year-old and could make a trade if Seattle winds up moving Wilson. Now, Carroll would probably rather have the future Hall of Famer over Darnold, but the Seahawks have at least been listening to offers for Wilson.

"I know there's been calls made on both sides," ESPN's Dianna Russini said on The Pat McAfee Show. "Going to Seattle, and from Seattle to other teams."

The Chicago Bears are eager to make a deal for Wilson, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. If they're unable to make that trade work, they could also turn their attention to Darnold.

The Bears need to find an answer at quarterback one way or another, and they may be more interested in rolling the dice on the USC product than bringing back Mitchell Trubisky or giving Nick Foles another opportunity.

A lot will hinge on whether Wilson and/or Watson get moved and if one of the aforementioned eight interested teams is willing to make a trade for Darnold before that happens.

Wilson and Watson are likely top targets for most quarterback-needy teams, though Darnold would likely be a far cheaper one in terms of trade cost—especially if the Jets become enamored with their draft options.