It seems like Sam Darnold is becoming more expendable by the day.
The New York Jets seem locked into selecting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. It likely would mean the end of Darnold in New York.
Reports had surfaced previously this offseason the Jets hoped to receive a second-round pick in return for Darnold, but perhaps the asking price has fallen a bit. NFL reporter Kimberly Martin went on ESPN’s “Get Up!” on Monday and, citing league personnel, noted how the expected return for Darnold now is somewhere around a third-round pick.
Could trading for Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, be worth the risk?
Well, consider this, and it admittedly requires us to put on our tinfoil hats for a minute: NFL Draft expert Daniel Jeremiah would have Darnold as the third signal-caller if the 23-year-old was entering the upcoming draft. (Obviously, Darnold is three years into his pro career instead.)
Jeremiah, for what it’s worth, ranked Darnold behind only the likely No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence and Wilson. It means Jeremiah sees Darnold the prospect ahead of North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and Alabama’s Mac Jones — all of whom are very likely to go within the first round, and maybe even the top-10.
It infers there is value in getting Darnold for a third-rounder, too.
The downfall, of course, is that those quarterbacks have four (and likely five) years on their first rookie contract. Darnold doesn’t offer the same financial benefit to a team that a quarterback on their rookie deal does. He will make less than $1 million base salary in 2021, but would earn $19 million if a team picks up his fifth-year option for the 2022 season.
Still, Darnold for a third-rounder is enticing. Perhaps the New England Patriots, specifically, would agree?
After all, the Patriots have reportedly been connected to a number of quarterbacks in the draft, but, as it stands, could be out of range for the top-of-market options having the No. 15 overall pick.
The Patriots, when it comes to Darnold, have a third-round compensatory pick (No. 96 overall) and three picks in the fourth round (Nos. 120, 122, 139).
Would it be a big risk? Of course. We’re talking about arguably the worst regular starting quarterback when looking at the numbers, as referenced previously by NESN.com’s Doug Kyed.
But the Patriots’ hopes in landing veteran Jimmy Garoppolo from the San Francisco 49ers are starting to feel more far-fetched. And despite New England signing Cam Newton to a one-year contract for the 2021 campaign, Bill Belichick and the organization still should bring in someone to compete with Jarrett Stidham and Newton for the starting job.
At the very least, Darnold offers that competition. And, at the very best, perhaps the Patriots get a young quarterback with potential to work well with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels?
There are a few factors which make it extremely enticing.