Three-plus weeks away from the draft, the early consensus points the Jets to selecting Zach Wilson at No. 2 overall. This would lead former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold out of the Big Apple. But the incumbent has supporters within the organization.
Some “high-powered” Jets personnel remain in the pro-Darnold camp, Ralph Vacchiano of SNY notes, with that faction preferring to see the former USC prospect be given another chance with a better roster in 2021. However, another group within the organization is behind a Wilson-centric future — one that would give the Jets at least three years to build around another rookie contract.
Wilson’s value laps Darnold’s at this point, and Vacchiano adds that some around the league wonder if the Jets could even fetch a second-round pick for their three-year starter. Some teams that would have made sense as Darnold suitors have moved on, and the Broncos are not planning to fork over a second-rounder for Darnold. While it is not certain if Denver is fully out on the passer it once coveted, new GM George Paton is not keen on trading his second-round pick for the passer that ranked last in 2020 QBR. The Panthers are also not believed to be high on Darnold.
The Jets were connected to a trade of Darnold or a trade of the No. 2 pick, but Vacchiano notes nothing has surfaced indicating the team has engaged in serious Darnold trade talks. Teams have inquired, however. Darnold remains on his rookie salary for 2021, but the Jets (or the team that acquires him) must decide on an $18.8MM fifth-year option by May 3. The Jets could theoretically keep both QBs, which would remind of the Chargers’ Drew Brees–Philip Rivers situation in the mid-2000s, but it should still be expected the team chooses between them.
The 49ers are not believed to have had serious discussions with the Jets about trading up to No. 2 overall, with San Francisco instead climbing to No. 3. The price the 49ers paid to rise nine slots — the No. 12 pick and a third-rounder in this year’s draft, along with 2022 and ’23 first-rounders — illustrates the value of the Jets’ selection. While Wilson still appears on course to succeed Darnold, GM Joe Douglas may not have made his final decision yet.
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