The New York Jets have officially made their decision about the future of the franchise’s quarterback position. And not a moment too soon….
The Jets have traded QB Sam Darnold to the QB needy Carolina Panthers in exchange for a 2021 6th round draft pick, a 2022 2nd round draft pick, and a 2022 4th round draft pick late Monday afternoon. This trade ends Darnold’s much-maligned career in New York where there was so much promise when he was drafted by then GM, Mike MacCagnan 3rd overall in the 2018 NFL Draft. Darnold was one of the “top 5” quarterbacks in that year’s draft which featured Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, and Josh Rosen. This was supposed the be the QB class that “changed” the NFL. If you look at that list now, Lamar Jackson has won an MVP in the NFL and played in an AFC Championship game. Baker Mayfield broke Cleveland’s playoff drought and leads one of the high-powered offenses in the AFC. Josh Allen, who a LOT of people made fun of, is an AFC East Champion, played in an AFC Championship game, and was in consideration for NFL MVP last season. Josh Rosen cannot even get a backup QB job in the NFL after Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals traded Rosen to Miami after drafting QB Kyler Murray and was subsequently released after he failed to catch on. And then there’s Sam Darnold and the Jets (in the best Joe Beningo voice I can do). In his 3-year career with the New York Jets, Sam Darnold has thrown for 8,097 yards, 45 TD’s, and 39 INTs with a 59.8% completion percentage- hardly stats that strike fear into the hearts of the opposition. While some analysts have said that Darnold possesses ‘magical sloppiness’ in his ability to make plays out of nothing, Jets fans have watched this ‘magical sloppiness’ result in just plain old sloppy QB play which resulted in bad reads, untimely turnovers, and a failure to produce points for an offensively challenged football team. For a QB in his third year in the NFL, the mistakes made in year one should NOT be made in year three on ANY level! And Sam was given every opportunity last season despite all the shortcomings around him to show that he can be successful and can be ‘the guy’ moving forward. But you can’t be ‘the guy’ if you’re constantly seeing ‘ghosts’ on the football field.
But as much as we want to bash Darnold for being a bad QB, the New York Jets are just as guilty as he is for the team’s woes. Mike MacCagnan’s arrogance came back to bite him in the ass when he drafted young Sam Darnold. And this arrogance pre-dates even the 2018 NFL draft, in my opinion. The combination of having a GM that never really addressed an offensive line that needed an overhaul, a head coach who was on the hot seat, an offensive coordinator who came back the year before as a QB coach after taking a 5-year hiatus from the game of football, and a football team that lacked talent overall was the ‘perfect storm’ that seemingly doomed Sam from the moment he was drafted. And it got progressively worse with the hire of Adam Gase as head coach in 2019-2020. With no talent around him and an unclear direction of where the franchise was heading at that point, its safe to say that the Jets failed Darnold in wasting his rookie contract by not building around him properly just as Darnold failed the Jets in his lack of production on the football field.
Why is this trade perfect for both teams right now? Because the Jets add to the arsenal of draft picks they already have to accelerate the TRUE rebuild that this team is currently undergoing plus get the opportunity to reset the QB position financially, which opens up cap space to obtain free agents they choose to go after in the future and re-sign homegrown players. The Panthers get a QB which they think they can fix and can be ‘the guy’ going forward. And its clear that they want to move on from Teddy Bridgewater so, Darnold will be given an opportunity to compete for the starting job in Carolina. A win-win for all parties involved!
Now, full disclosure, I was a huge fan of Sam. I wanted him to do well here. I defended him to anyone that would listen from all the Sam-Haters within the fan base. But what we all saw last year made all the defending pointless. Sam was just not going to cut it as a New York Jet. So, I wish him well in Carolina and I do hope that he can resurrect his career over there.
The smart money is that the Jets are taking a quarterback at 2. And the overwhelming consensus is that the Jets are “leaning” in the direction of BYU QB Zack Wilson. So, its time for Jets Nation to put the past 3 years of failures, heartaches, and disappointments behind and begin to focus on the future. And, if Joe Douglas has anything to say about it, the future of the New York Jets organization now looks to not just take down the big top circus tents that have been associated with this team for a long time now, but to burn them in defiance and make the Jets respectable again.