The Jets are remaining vague on the future of their quarterback.
Sam Darnold is headed into his fourth year in the NFL, and after spending three years wandering the abyss with the rudderless Jets, his days in New York could be numbered. Or, he’s just getting started as a Jet. There’s little indication in one direction or another based on the responses from Jets leadership.
“Our stance on Sam hasn’t changed,” Jets general manager Joe Douglas said Wednesday. “He’s an extremely talented player and he’s very smart, very tough. We have no doubt that Sam is gonna achieve his outstanding potential. Obviously, we’re in the process of gaining as much information as we can leading up through free agency and the draft but our stance on Sam has not changed.”
New York owns the second overall pick in April’s draft, which features a class stocked with potential franchise quarterbacks. While the Jets won their way out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes — winning that contest would have guaranteed the end of Darnold’s time in New York — they’re still in a prime position to select their next anointed savior under center.
The question is: Do the Jets believe this crop’s top signal-callers have a chance to be better than Darnold?
Darnold arrived in New York via the third pick of the 2018 draft, a selection most Jets fans hailed as a steal after Cleveland stunned the NFL by taking Baker Mayfield first overall. While Mayfield has led the Browns to a playoff victory in his time, Darnold’s fortunes have proven to be vastly different. He’s played behind a rotating cast of offensive linemen and thrown passes to a wide variety of receivers.
All of this has achieved little in the way of stability, and because quarterback is such a significant position (and Darnold hasn’t exactly been incredibly consistent), many are wondering whether the pick was a mistake. The Jets have a chance to rectify that if they believe it to be true by moving on from Darnold and taking their next face of the future — or they could point to the many other issues (coaching, internal displeasure, a lack of front office direction that included a wild shopping spree and the departure of the GM who drafted Darnold shortly thereafter) as the reason for Darnold’s stalled takeoff.
That seems to be where the Jets stand at this moment, a point in their timeline when they’re truly attempting to determine whether Darnold is the best available option. As with every draft, the element of the unknown lurks, waiting to bite the personnel chief who believes too strongly in the potential of a rookie. The same element causes others to pull the trigger in fear of missing out on a potential franchise-changing talent.
Are BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance those talents? Is Alabama’s Mac Jones? Or is Darnold still the representation of New York’s best chance?
These are the questions the Jets must answer in the weeks and months ahead. And if they believe it’s time to move on, their phone won’t be far from reach in the event outside suitors decide to dial them.
“I will answer the call if it’s made,” Douglas said. “As it pertains to Sam, like I said, Sam, we think, is a dynamic player in this league with unbelievable talent who really has a chance to really hit his outstanding potential moving forward. But, like I said earlier, if calls are made, I will answer ’em.”