A quarter of the way into the season, the Jets are looking like the clear frontrunners to finish with the worst record and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That means the Jets would have the right to select Clemson QB Trevor Lawrence who’s been seen as a future NFL star since leading his school to the national title as a true freshman. However, that would mean moving on from current QB Sam Darnold, who the Jets took No. 3 overall just two years ago in 2018.
Adam Schefter surveyed a few general managers to ask what the Jets could potentially get back for Darnold if they traded him and all thought a first-round pick was unlikely.
“I don’t think they’d get a [first-round pick] for Sam, but it also depends what he puts on tape the rest of the year,” one general manager told ESPN. “The problem is, [Darnold] is struggling with his accuracy, his durability — so they’re in a tough spot. And if everyone knows the Jets are taking a quarterback, then they won’t get as much back.”
A similar situation played out with the Cardinals last year when they got the No. 1 overall pick just a year after taking Josh Rosen a few picks after Darnold. They took Kyler Murray and traded Rosen for a second and fifth-round pick. One GM called that the best-case scenario for New York.
“The high-water mark would be a [second-round pick] for him,” the GM said. “I think they could get a [fourth-round pick] for him, but if he finished positive for him, they might get a 2 for him. In college, he was a turnover machine. In the NFL, he has been a turnover machine. I just don’t think he has the credentials to go for a 1.”
An additional complication would be Darnold’s fifth-year option at around $24 million, with the decision point for that coming by next May.
However, a third general manager told Schefter that if Darnold puts out some good tape later this season a first-round pick wouldn’t be outside the range of outcomes for a team that had a high grade on Darnold in 2018. That’s especially true if that team is out of position to select one of the top quarterbacks in next year’s class.
Schefter lists the Colts, Bears and Saints as teams that potentially meet those three conditions.
Darnold has a shoulder injury and is not playing Week 5.
Darnold, 23, is a former first-round pick of the Jets back in 2018. He’s currently in the third year of his four-year, $30,370,490 contract with the Jets that included a $20,167,628 signing bonus.
The contract will also include a fifth-year option for the Jets to pick up in 2021.
In 2020, Darnold has appeared in four games for the Jets and completed 59.4 percent of his passes for 792 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions. He has also rushed for 117 yards and a touchdown.
We’ll have more regarding Darnold as the news is available.