NFL Trade Rumors: Jets Open to Keeping Sam Darnold, Drafting QB at No. 2

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistMarch 29, 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

The New York Jets reportedly are open to keeping Sam Darnold on their roster, even if they wind up taking a quarterback with the No. 2 pick in next month's draft. 

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the Jets have "every option in consideration" and remain high on Darnold's skill set.

The Jets are viewed as a near-lock to take a quarterback at No. 2, with BYU's Zach Wilson emerging as the overwhelming favorite in recent weeks.

Darnold, the fifth pick of the 2018 draft, has been one of the league's worst quarterbacks over his three NFL seasons. The Jets have compiled a 13-25 record with Darnold as their starter, with Football Outsiders' metrics ranking him no higher than 30th in any season.

Carson Wentz was the only quarterback with a lower DYAR than Darnold in 2020.

If the Jets plan on taking a quarterback next month, it would make little sense to keep Darnold around—even if it meant selling low on his talent. The Jets have an $18.9 million option on his contract for 2022, which they will almost certainly not exercise. Even if Darnold were to win the starting job, the Jets would be in a position where they would have to use the franchise tag or give Darnold a long-term contract.

The best foot forward for the franchise likely would be to hand the keys to the franchise over to their new starter and use the draft capital acquired for Darnold to begin building an offense. Kimberley A. Martin of ESPN reported two general managers said they'd give up a third-round pick to get Darnold, though others said they thought that was too high.

If the Jets can get a third-rounder that turns into second if Darnold hits certain performance thresholds, that should be considered a win. Keeping him around almost certainly ensures he would leave the Jets next offseason without compensation.