No, it has not been that long since the new league year began in the National Football League. Yet, it seems as if 2021 Free Agency has been going on forever. Already, the New York Jets have begun to make moves to fill holes. The Jets are set to bring on defensive end Carl Lawson, wide receiver Corey Davis, linebacker Jarrad Davis, and cornerback Justin Hardee. All four are young, high upside signings that will be immediate contributors for gang green, but will little effect on the Sam Darnold trade situation.
Will the Jets draft a quarterback? Might they go all-in on Russell Wilson or Deshaun Watson? Or maybe they elect to give Sam Darnold one last shot. The bottom line is this – all three of these scenarios involve making a decision on Darnold’s future with the team. And unfortunately for the Jets, other teams cannot wait for them to make that choice.
Not even a week into free agency, the Washington Football Team and Chicago Bears signed quarterbacks who appear to be the favorites for their starting jobs. Additionally, the New Orleans Saints retained Jameis Winston, and the Houston Texans added Watson insurance in Tyrod Taylor. Simply put, the need for a quarterback by these teams just went down.
That being said, the Jets must take a fresh look at the market for Sam Darnold, should they choose to trade him. Here are the teams who could still make a deal for the USC product…
Reviewing Sam Darnold Trade Suitors Days into Free Agency
Unlikely, But Not Impossible
From the start, it appeared the free-agent quarterback market would be made of quality veterans who, with the right supporting cast around them, could succeed. And that is exactly the way the Bears viewed it. The Bears, a team that has been searching for a quarterback for years now, needed to make a move. While fans would have loved Russell Wilson, the team went a different direction after their proposal to the Seattle Seahawks was declined. The Bears signed Andy Dalton to a one-year deal worth $10-million. Given the fact that Nick Foles is already there too, Dalton’s signing likely takes Chicago out of the running for Darnold. Then again, neither Dalton or Foles makes for a long-term plan.
Meanwhile, the Carolina Panthers seem primed for a quarterback change. No, Teddy Bridgewater did not play terribly, but he clearly is not the long-term answer under center for the Panthers. Carolina has the eighth overall pick in the draft and young weapons on offense that may entice say – Deshaun Watson to waive his no-trade clause? Well, if not that, then the Panthers are in a good position to stay or trade up to grab their guy in the draft. Therefore, chances are a trade for Darnold is not likely to happen.
Potential Interest for a Quarterback Competition
Again, the Washington Football Team appears to have their quarterback competition set. Ryan Fitzpatrick is set to be the starter entering training camp with Taylor Heinicke competing against him. Nonetheless, Darnold remains an enticing option. Washington is not in a position to draft a top quarterback, nor is this a draft with multiple mid-round developmental quarterback prospects. At the same time, Fitzpatrick gives Washington the best chance to win in 2021.
The same goes for the San Francisco 49ers and Denver Broncos. Both have starting quarterbacks on the roster in Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Lock, who may bounce back in 2021. Garoppolo has struggled to stay healthy, and the 49ers have been connected to Darnold because of his potential should he play under Kyle Shanahan. Whereas in Denver, like Darnold, Lock’s inconsistency could make the team intrigued by the idea of bringing in another quarterback to compete with him. Ultimately, neither have a dire need to trade for Darnold.
Where things get interesting is when discussing Darnold being dealt in a trade to acquire Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. Yes, Houston has not shown any interest in dealing Watson. However, Watson has no interest in playing another snap as a Texan. For as long as the Jets are waiting to decide on Darnold, Houston may wait even longer to feel out the situation and market for their quarterback. Despite signing Tyrod Taylor, Houston could ask for Darnold back in return in a blockbuster trade in order to give him another chance.
An interesting storyline that has emerged is Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll’s praise of Sam Darnold. Carroll is high on Darnold, and very well may see Darnold join him out west should the Jets trade for Russell Wilson. Of course, this scenario has less to do with Darnold and the Jets, and more to do with Seattle, Wilson, and his no-trade clause
Sam Darnold Trade Leaves New York In Need of a Starter
Here lies the issue with the approach the New York Jets are taking. The team is evaluating all options at quarterback, in the sense they are monitoring every top draft prospect’s pro days. Even so, by waiting until then, other teams will have made progress in settling their own quarterback position. And because of that, there are no destinations left that Darnold can become the immediate starter via trade.
The National Football League is a business, and during free agency, it becomes more obvious than ever. New York’s front office is doing their job in turning over every rock in search of their answer at quarterback. Though, at this point, the fact of the matter is Sam Darnold’s market is becoming less clear by the day.
Embed from Getty Images