Sam Darnold is coming off a disappointing third NFL season that raised questions about whether he can be a franchise quarterback, but that hasn’t stopped teams from showing interest in him.
Multiple teams have reached out to the Jets to inquire about Darnold, according to ESPN. The report indicated that the Jets have not made a decision on his future but haven’t turned away the calls.
That’s significant because it shows that general manager Joe Douglas has experienced a shift when it comes to Darnold. During the quarterback’s second NFL season, Douglas said he was untouchable, but now he at least is listening to what teams have to say.
This is not surprising. Darnold hasn’t taken the necessary steps for the Jets to fully commit to him at this point. He is 13-25 in three seasons as their starting quarterback, including 2-10 this season.
The smart thing for the Jets is to see what they can get for Darnold, the No. 3 pick in the 2018 draft, if they decide to make a fresh start with their new coaching staff.
A number of starting quarterbacks are expected to change teams this offseason. Two already have, as
Detroit sent Matthew Stafford to the Rams in exchange for Jared Goff.
Reports indicate Philadelphia’s Carson Wentz could be the next quarterback on the move. What the Eagles get for him could set a reasonable market for Darnold if the Jets decide to move on from him.
The Jets could use the No. 2 pick to draft a quarterback, with BYU’s Zach Wilson and Ohio State’s Justin Fields possible choices.
They also could get involved in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Watson has requested a trade from Houston, but the Texans have said they will not trade him and reportedly aren’t taking calls for him right now.
The Jets, stocked with plenty of draft-pick assets and salary-cap flexibility, will have options. One would be to keep Darnold and see if the new coaching staff can help him become the player everyone thought he would be when he came out of USC.
Darnold has shown flashes. He was expected to take a big jump in Year 3 of his NFL career, but that didn’t happen. He continued to make poor decisions and wasn’t able to elevate the play of his teammates. He threw only nine touchdown passes and was intercepted 11 times this season.
It wasn’t all his fault, though. Douglas didn’t surround him with enough playmakers. Also, former Jets coach Adam Gase failed to develop Darnold, which was the reason he was hired in the first place.
Darnold is only 23. There are some who believe that with the right coaching, he can make a dramatic improvement. The Jets hired Robert Saleh as head coach and he brought in Mike LaFleur to be his offensive coordinator. Working under LaFleur’s system could be a good first step for Darnold.
The new coaching staff still is going through its evaluation of Darnold with Douglas. They’re deciding whether to build around him or make a major change.