Jets tipping hand that Sam Darnold era is drawing to a close

Sam Darnold Jets
Sam Darnold
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

It appears as though the New York Jets’ view on Sam Darnold is finally beginning to jive with what the rest of the football world has long suspected.

General manager Joe Douglas on Wednesday revealed that the Jets would take calls on the 23-year-old quarterback, who recently completed his third professional season and regressed even further under former head coach, Adam Gase.

“I will answer the call if it’s made,” Douglas said. “Sam is we think a dynamic player in this league with unbelievable talent who really has a chance to hit his outstanding potential moving forward. Like I’ve said earlier, if calls are made, I will answer them.”

A far cry from the 2019 trade deadline when Douglas stated that Darnold was one of the only untouchable Jets.

It at least provides the first hint of what the organization will do this offseason when it comes to their quarterback situation — but is that kind of transparency from the general manager the way to go entering the spring?

At this point, it sounds as though Douglas is trying to sell the young quarterback to the rest of the league in an attempt to boost his trade value.

It was the same kind of message conveyed by new head coach, Robert Saleh, when he was asked about Darnold’s future — although he was ultimately non-committal.

“He is an unbelievable talent,” Saleh told the Huddle and Flow podcast with Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter back in late-January. “There’s a reason why he was the third overall pick. Just watch the tape. Production aside, just watch the player. He’s got tremendous mobility. He’s got arm talent, fearless, smart, and he’s a quick, precise decision-maker. He’s loved in the locker room, and people adore him around this building.”

Darnold has failed to show the promise that came with being drafted third overall out of USC in 2018, though it still is difficult to pin the entirety of the blame on him considering the lack of offensive weapons around him and the dysfunctional coaching that was headlined by Gase.

Still, good quarterbacks are expected to keep their teams competitive — at least. Darnold has been unable to do that, coming off a 2020 campaign in which he was unable to stay healthy yet again, posting a meager 59.6% completion percentage with 2,208 yards, nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions, and a 72.7 passer rating in 12 games.

If a team believes that Darnold could flourish in the right system, the Jets have the centerpiece for a trade — along with their extensive draft capital — that could either get them a franchise quarterback or address other glaring needs on the depth chart.

The Jets have long been linked to a deal with Houston Texans superstar quarterback, Deshaun Watson, who wants a change of scenery and reportedly has listed Gang Green as one of his preferred trade destinations. Such a deal would likely require Darnold and the Jets’ No. 2 overall pick at the 2021 NFL Draft.

Should the Jets go in another direction, the No. 2 pick provides another clear shot at finding that elusive franchise passer. BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields will be available for the taking.

“Our timeline right now is gathering as much information as we possibly can, especially as it pertains not only in free agency but in this year’s draft class,” Douglas said. “We feel like we’re really in no hard timeline in the immediate future to make a decision, but when we do make a decision, we’re going to do it after gathering as much good information as we can.”

Whatever that decision might be, it looks as though they don’t seem too committed to Darnold anymore.

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