AFC Notes: Sam Darnold Trade Details, Jets, Patriots

     

Sam Darnold

Jets GM Joe Douglas issued the following statement regarding the decision to trade QB Sam Darnold to the Panthers on Monday.

“I want to publicly acknowledge the commitment, dedication, and professionalism Sam displayed while with the Jets. He is a tough-minded, talented football player whose NFL story has not been written yet While all these things are true, this move is in the short- and long-term best interests for both this team and him. We thank Sam for all of his work on behalf of this organization and wish him well as he continues his career.”

  • ESPN’s Dianna Russini said there were members within the Jets organization that supported keeping Darnold as the starting quarterback.
  • NFL Media’s Ian Rapaport says the Jets wanted to do a Darnold trade after free agency, and the Panthers became the only suitor when they were ready to make a deal.
  • However, the Athletic’s Connor Hughes reports the Broncos were also involved with the Jets in trade talks for QB Sam Darnold
  • According to Rapaport, when Matt Rhule interviewed for the Jets HC job in 2019, he talked with Darnold and was impressed that the quarterback was more interested in Rhule’s culture fit rather than scheme.
  • Albert Breer reports that the Jets and Panthers first discussed a trade in mid-February, and the talks picked up in the last few weeks.
  • Douglas talked face-to-dace at the Ohio State Pro Day with Panthers GM Scott Fitterer and Rhule. 
  • The Jets were looking for a second-round pick and a mid-round pick or player in return for Darnold, which is similar to the Josh Rosen trade from a few years ago. 
  • According to Breer, the teams talked about multiple trade options, including the Jets trading Darnold and the No. 23 overall pick for the Panthers’ No. 8 selection. However, Carolina ultimately declined the offer.

Jets

  • SNY’s Ralph Vacchiano says the Jets did give serious consideration to keeping both Darnold and drafting BYU QB Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall. Darnold still has some serious supporters inside the building.
  • However, Vacchiano adds the team eventually decided it would be too messy. Carolina was willing to meet their asking price so they pulled the trigger. 
  • Vacchiano mentions that while the Broncos, 49ers and Washington were believed to have expressed interest in Darnold this offseason, it’s unclear if those talks ever progressed past the preliminary stage. 
  • Jets GM Joe Douglas had a press conference on Tuesday and confirmed having the No. 2 pick is what made them feel comfortable trading away Darnold: “Having the No. 2 pick, I think it’s safe to say if our pick was a little bit later we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now. We’d be comfortable moving ahead with Sam.” (Vacchiano)
  • Douglas noted the fact that they still were uncertain about Darnold with a decision coming up on his fifth-year option was a factor in their decision: “We felt ultimately at the end of the day this was an opportunity to hit the reset button financially, so to speak.”
  • He acknowledged there’s not much point in playing coy with their plans with the pick to take a quarterback: “I think that’s a fair assessment to say. … You can kind of see the direction we’re heading.”
  • Most expect Wilson to be the pick, including former BYU QB Steve Young who said the Jets are “committed” to Wilson. Douglas didn’t outright admit that but did say: “Steve’s plugged in to BYU pretty well.”
  • Now the challenge for the Jets and Douglas becomes making sure their next quarterback doesn’t suffer the same fate as Darnold: “We have to surround our next quarterback with as much talent as possible.” (Kimberley Martin)
  • Douglas mentioned there were never any “meaningful” discussions with the Panthers about trading for the No. 2 pick. (Vacchiano)
  • The NFLPA released its calculations for the performance-based pay benefit that was eliminated in 2020 but will still be paid by teams. Each team split $8.5 million between its players and payments are deferred to 2024. 
  • The top Jets player was OLB Tarell Basham ($446,879).
  • Iowa State RB Kene Nwangwu, a standout special teams player, has met virtually with the Jets. (Justin Melo)

Patriots

  • NBC Sports’ Tom Curran writes that the Panthers’ trade for QB Sam Darnold appears to take another quarterback-needy team out of the picture in the draft order ahead of the Patriots. Carolina picks at No. 8 and New England at No. 15. 
  • Curran notes that could make a trade-up scenario easier but he ultimately thinks the Patriots will sit tight at No. 15 and pick the best player available, which probably won’t be a quarterback. 
  • Even if they don’t take a quarterback in the first round, ESPN’s Mike Reiss points out the Patriots could still draft a quarterback on the second or third day of the draft. Stanford QB Davis Mills has been getting some hype as a potential second-round pick and ESPN’s Mel Kiper thinks he could be a fit in New England: “Was he elite? No. But he has talent. He had a great pro day [throwing in the rain]. All the guys beyond the big five, he may be the next quarterback taken and it will probably be in the second round. He could possibly drop to the third.” 
  • Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond is also reportedly impressing teams and could end up as a second-round pick according to some draft analysts like NFL Media’s Daniel Jeremiah: “I like him, and I think he’s got a live arm. He can create and extend a little bit. Talking to the guys down there at A&M, they said when they would get on the plane after games he would be standing up in the aisle with [coach] Jimbo Fisher already watching the tape with him, so he was always dialed in, always around the facility.”
  • Other options, per Reiss, include Florida QB Kyle Trask, Wake Forest QB Jamie Newman and Texas QB Sam Ehlinger.
  • The NFLPA released its calculations for the performance-based pay benefit that was eliminated in 2020 but will still be paid by teams. Each team split $8.5 million between its players and payments are deferred to 2024. 
  • The top Patriots player was OL Michael Onwenu ($554,792).
  • Mississippi State QB KJ Costello has met virtually with the Patriots. (Crissy Froyd)
  • Iowa State RB Kene Nwangwu, a standout special teams player, has met virtually with the Patriots. (Justin Melo)

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