ESPN’s Keyshawn Johnson firmly believes the New York Jets should bypass Trevor Lawrence and stick with Sam Darnold.
Keyshawn Johnson just shot his shot. Or, at the very least, he’s officially joined the hot take world that is mainstream sports media.
— Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin (@KeyJayandZ) October 19, 2020
“You drafted a guy three years ago with the third pick in the draft because he was your Trevor Lawrence,” Johnson said on Monday. “He has nothing around him. Nothing. Zero, zilch, right? Nothing. He looks good at times and bad at times with nothing around him.
“(He has) a coach that how he (wound up) coaching the New York Jets, we’ll never know. But you’re ready to move on from (Darnold) because you think Trevor Lawrence is the next Andrew Luck? What the hell did Andrew Luck win?”
Johnson believes ditching Darnold for another quarterback would equal “starting the process over again.” The problem is two-fold: He’s viewing the two quarterbacks as identical, and he’s acting as if the salary cap isn’t a harsh NFL reality.
Nobody knows what Lawrence can or will be the professional level. Additionally, nobody really knows what Darnold could be if he was afforded the chance to get it done (surrounding talent, coaching, etc.). But Darnold wasn’t a Douglas selection, and the man who learned under Ozzie Newsome understands the salary cap extremely well.
Darnold entering the fourth year of his deal is risky business. The Jets would have to decline or activate his fifth-year option for huge money this offseason. Without discussing that topic, any opinion on the matter is null and void, as it remains the most crucial part of the mix.
In stark contrast, Lawrence would come in on the first year of a rookie deal that gives the Jets a four-year window to do damage. As it pertains to the salary cap and overall health of the depth chart, Lawrence is undoubtedly the option.
Johnson’s best point is the trade-back scenario.
“I don’t understand why they think that the quarterback is the answer when they have one that they need to put pieces around,” Johnson added. “You take that number one pick and you trade it. And you do what the Boston Celtics in basketball have done — you stockpile a bunch of picks, and then you start to find guys that can help you build your damn team!”
Keeping Darnold and pairing him with a load of assets is a worthwhile discussion. Then again, usually, when things are this bad, everybody involved has their own failures to wrestle with on a daily basis.
If Darnold isn’t the real deal, that’s pretty much it for Douglas with the Jets. That’s a huge problem worth mentioning.
Selecting Lawrence No. 1 and having that four-year window to build a better team around him (more available money) has been the bonafide hard salary-cap move for championship teams over recent history (i.e. Russell Wilson with the Seattle Seahawks, Patrick Mahomes with the Kansas City Chiefs, etc.).
In the end, Keyshawn Johnson has spoken. Sure, his angle is worthy of consideration, but it’s tough to really dig in when the most important part isn’t even mentioned: how the decision impacts the salary cap.