Jets Split On Quarterback Decision?

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 BreesPhilip 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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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41 comments on “Jets Split On Quarterback Decision?

  1. Al Hirschen

    You have to trade Darnold at the Draft. Or else you’ll have to cut him

    • lambeau gang

      Orrrrrrr you let the two guys duke it out for the starting job during training camp. That’s the strategy the Niners will be using with Jimmy G and the QB they take at #3 overall. Competition tends to bring out the best in competitors.

      • JWB1865

        $26.8 million is a lot of money to pay a potential backup QB to create competition. They would be better off trading or releasing him and signing a much less expensive veteran. You can’t restructure his contact without adding years to it. It will only cost them $2.8 million to release him outright. If the guy they plan on selecting at #3 is worth the haul they gave up for that pick this is a no brainer.

        • ramjets13

          Sam’s cap # is just under $9.8 million this year. Don’t pick up the fifth year option and let it play out. Best case Wilson outplays him, someone realizes they made a mistake, Chicago, and trades for Sam.

    • nyy42

      Or you could draft Wilson and start the season with Donald if he plays well? Then you have a good problem on your hands!

      • ruckus727

        I agree. Sit Wilson and let him learn the system. Get him practice some reps but see if Darnold can take a step forward. If he does, his trade value increases. If he shines, you have a good problem.

        • jast25

          The should draft Wilson keep Darnold and let him play. The jets have two more year of control with darnold. Let Wilson sit for two years and let sit what happens.

      • Perksy

        But if they do not trade Darnold at the draft what do they do on May 3 with regard to the 5th year option? If they decline he is basically a lame duck QB.

    • Chaznyc

      I’m afraid no team is gonna do what we won’t do either; meaning they too wouldn’t take on his 5th year option so he’d be a FA after 2022, that’s giving up a high draft pick to take a guy for one year. Jets screwed the kid by hiring Gase. Best scenario, keep him and see what happens.

      • phenomenalajs

        Agreed. He may thrive in 49ers style offense. Sewell should be their pick. If Atlanta wants Ryan’s successor, maybe they’ll give the Jets a 2nd+ to leapfrog the Niners. Don’t forget the Jets had a QB redshirt last year who could be a surprise if he’s well protected.

        • Chaznyc

          You mean Morgan? So little talk about him, I’ve already got hi in the Hackenberg Boat. LOL I’d hope Falcons jump over Niners, good for us.

  2. phillyballers

    Question: Are the Jets within playoff contention in the next 5 years if use cap space to reup Darnold?

    If the answer is No. Draft the QB and trade Darnold for whatever you get.

    Otherwise, draft the BPA or trade back and build a team around Darnold. And if Darnold isn’t the guy, draft someone in 2 yrs.

    • vinman66

      That’s a terrible idea. What makes you think there would be a Good QB to choose from 2 years from now. This is the year for the Jets to strike. Sam is going to mount up being nothing then a below average QB. Draft Wilson and hope for the best.

      • padam

        And what makes you think Darnold is going to amount up to nothing when he had nothing around him and an idiot for a coach. There’s a reason he went 3rd, and was considered to possibly go 1st. Three years of playing with crap – I’d like to see the kid play with talent around him and a coach who is stable.

        • phenomenalajs

          I’m with you Padam. You know where I stand. I’d take Sewell over any QB not named Trevor Lawrence.

  3. KCJ

    This could go so many different ways. Before Darnold was drafted, all the “experts” were gushing about him just like they are doing for Wilson now. They talked about Darnold for two years…he was supposed to be the next big superstar and “can’t miss” QB. There was even talk of teams tanking for the right to draft him at one point.

    Is Darnold’s poor play a result of the miserable team around him, or were all of those “experts”, all across the NFL, just THAT wrong about him? Those of us who are of a certain age can remember Troy Aikman and John Elway looking like complete fools trying to compete on horrible teams, but as the talent around them improved, they became HOF legends. Darnold has struggled a bit longer than they did, but I’d argue that Jimmy Johnson turned his teams talent level around a whole lot quicker than the Jets have done prior to this offseason. Maybe Darnold could follow a similar path if given the chance…or maybe he flames out and becomes a career backup.

    So now what do the Jets do…draft another QB who is currently being hyped just like Darnold was a few years ago and hope all the “experts” are right this time, or trade the pick for a boatload of value and try to build around the last “QB of the future”? I’m certainly not qualified to answer that question, but the Jets have a lot to think about here. That 5th year option really complicates things further.

    It’s gonna be interesting to see how this all plays out for the Jets, the draft, and for Darnold

    • cwalla24

      Good points. It really almost is a crapshoot as to which one will have the better overall career. If it really is this close, then I agree with a previous commenter, take Wilson and the longer rookie contract window and just accept a 3rd if you can’t pry a 2nd for Darnold and move on.

    • bucsfan

      Yeah I’d like to see the Steelers trade back a few spots in the first round and try to pick up and extra 3rd and then offer that to the Jets for Darnold. That way they can continue to concentrate on OL, RB, and LB with their other picks

      • padam

        I hate to say this but when Ben goes all systems a go. His cap is killing the team. Dupree could’ve been kept along with a couple of others for the diff between Ben and Sam. What good is keeping Ben when the support system around him can’t be retained.

  4. jay13

    4 things

    Who has Darnold had to throw to?

    Who has been his RB that has not been washed up?

    Who were the guys paid to keep him clean???

    When has there been a defense there to stop anyone.

    I think if given the right pieces around him, Darnold could do some nice things.

    It is a tough choice for the Jets. This draft could plug a lot of those holes for Darnold but could also start a new regime off with a great core. I personally like Darnold and think if the Jets took Sewell or even traded down and shocked the draft pundits, it could be sweet. They could build a nice team around Darnold.

    In the end, I think Joe Douglas and Saleh take Zach Wilson and trade Darnold.

  5. txman22

    What do the Jets front office see in Darnold. He’s still checking the video from 2 yrs ago. They need a QB change as us Jets fans also need. I like Wilson but I think they need a QB who can run like Fields or the guy from No Dakota who’s name I forget.

  6. gcg27

    Offer Donald a player friendly contact with 30 mill guaranteed. If he agrees you will save money over the deal. Maybe 6 year 90 mill extension with 30 mill guaranteed. He’s done nothing yet and to get 30 mill guarantee might be enough to get him to sign. Worse case scenario u invest that amount and lose.. if he accepts u trade with Carolina at 8 for a bunch of trade capital giving u cheap labor with future number ones and lion for Qb next year or year after that. Win win on both sides

    • real_ttebow_

      agreed. you either extend him to a team friendly deal with a low cap hit and see what he can do with better coaching and weapons or you trade him and draft your next qb of choice but keeping him on his current deal is waiting for him to play himself out of your price range

    • Chaznyc

      I have never gotten the hone answer on that; can the Jets tear up the rookie deal and negotiate a new one? All I hear is we have to give him $25M next year, NO ONE is gonna do that based on his body of work (fair or unfair), so why can’t we sign him to a cheaper, longer deal ourselves?

  7. gcg27

    You then learn if Donald can be QB of future before you give up on him now that you have better coaches and better team around him to evaluate him

  8. Carlos Aguila

    Love Zach. He was a big time QB in a small pond. Never threw against NFL caliber cornerbacks or sophisticated defenses. He’s never been pounded or dealt with adversity. Think he’s going to have a really tough rookie year. Kyle Pitts is more dominant at his position than Trevor Lawrence is at his. I would trade the #2 pick to the 49ers (demand their 2nd rounder) and then pick Pitts. Every great team needs a superstar, Zach isn’t it, but Pitts clearly will be. Then I would draft Carlos Basham at 23 and Quinn Meinerz and Jamin Davis with my second round picks. You will then have built Godzilla, and if Sam proves not to be it – you get Matt Ryan or whomever next year and have a team ready-built to win the SB.

    • dylan1g

      I like this take a lot. I also think the 49ers will do this if they’re high on Wilson.

  9. arty!

    Hard to believe that the 3rd year GM and new HC are still pondering what to do. Before taking the HC gig, the QB position was well discussed. If not, more losing seasons then.

    • amk1920

      They know exactly what they are doing with #2. This is all just for show.

  10. natsfan3437

    If I was the Jets I personally would trade back from 2 and keep Darnold for a year to see what he has. I personally don’t like any of the other quarterbacks and think they are all being overhyped for tv ratings purposes.

  11. Yipicya

    Keeping Darnold and staying at 2 is not an option. Arnold is exactly the same QB he was at USC. A slow to read, slower of foot, turnover prone, QB that is a mediocre or worse option.

    You can whine about the coach THE TEAM HIRED or the players THE TEAM SIGNED but the reality is Darnold doesn’t have the ability to be a #1 QB in this league.

    He is the lesser Andy Dalton

  12. bigeasye

    Let’s be honest. Nobody had any idea if Darnold or Wilson is a franchise QB at this point in time. The jets probably missed their opportunity to trade down unless they can convince Denver or Carolina to move up.
    The question becomes if they have enough talent can they win with average QB play- in which case I think you keep darnold, trade down and squire picks and assets.

  13. Special Agent

    If I’m Denver I offer a conditional pick. If Darnold beats out Lock and leads the Broncos to a winning season, the pick improves. The playoffs? The pick improves more. A win in the playoffs? A higher pick.

    Otherwise, right now, no way is Darnold worth much more than a 5th or 6th round pick with his body of work.

  14. padam

    Seriously, Jets should swap with Atlanta. Get an extra 2nd rounder or two and then select Sewell with the 4th pick. Now Darnold has bookends at T. Use the two 2’s to move back down near 10 and grab a WR if they feel lucky to pair with Davis. Now Darnold has bookended in front of him and two top WRs. That’s a start.

    • phenomenalajs

      Exactly! I know I suggested something similar in another comment on another article.

  15. JYD5321

    Jets are making a “Jet level” mistake if they draft Wilson with the #2 pick. It will be another case where their plan A is a typical plan B. Wilson isn’t Trevor Lawrence or close, and he doesn’t compare well as a prospect to the best young QBs in the league. Even the people who like him say this (if you listen carefully enough). I like Douglas, but I fear that the FO and HC want to draft a rookie QB to extend their own window of employment (fan patience) without on field success. Except under a Mikey Mac analysis, that’s the only clock that might be reset. The cost of swapping the QBs is enormous, and any cap space gained will be far less than the additional amounts needed to fill critical needs with FAs vs draft picks.

    If we were a better team with assets in excess of what we need to create a high level roster, then it might be a closer call. We aren’t, and if we draft Wilson, I think it’s likely we’ll be in the same position in 3 years. Young QB who’s spent most of his young career on his back, and lacking the resources to change that dynamic. Reset again? If it’s the right move now, it always will be.

  16. SueJen

    Unless Jets are given a second round draft choice keep Darnold and Wilson. Some team will come a calling for Sam after a QB injury.
    Patience is a virtue!

  17. seaver41

    Fluff piece ….Wilson is getting drafted. Economics drives the final nail in Darnold coffin

    • phenomenalajs

      The only Wilson I’d want to replace Sam now would be Russell. If not, keep Sam and draft Sewell or trade down.

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