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New York Jets’ Sam Darnold trade market: 5 deals that could work

Sam Darnold
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Although the Sam Darnold trade market appears to be shrinking for the New York Jets, several teams still make sense as possibilities.

Sam Darnold is still a New York Jets employee—much to the chagrin of the many fans wanting as much value as possible. The story is pretty simple: Now that many teams have seemingly solved their quarterback situation, the potential Darnold suitors have been slashed.

Having not pulled the trigger as of yet, general manager Joe Douglas is now working with a shorter deck. Right?

Remember, quarterback in this league is unlike any position in professional sports. A team with two quarterbacks, in theory, has none. Fitting both Darnold and Zach Wilson on the roster in 2021 isn’t an ideal scenario. Then again, having neither of those guys on the roster at any point during the calendar season is risky business—no matter the circumstances.

What if Douglas had traded Darnold already, only to find out Wilson is set for a rare power-play that gets him to the San Francisco 49ers on draft day? Suddenly, the Jets are in a painful situation. (Oh, the pain.)

What if, at the very last moment, a team offers Douglas a Herschel Walker-type deal for the No. 2 overall pick? If Darnold is already gone, pivoting there simply cannot happen. Moving on from Darnold early eliminates the possibility of a Godfather-esque (an offer they can’t refuse) trade.

Yeah, sure … we’re now discussing long-shot possibilities, but this is the NFL. This is the league Jerry Glanville once dubbed “Not For Long.” Only those who called Deshaun Watson’s latest misfortunes can critically pick apart my line of thinking. Who in the world saw that long-shot possibility happening before it came to fruition?

Keeping Darnold rostered right now might not have even happened due to a lack of trying. Douglas told the world he’s ready to accept calls on the USC kid, but that could have simply been a “head start” sort of deal while the intention was to keep him rostered until the next quarterback was officially in hand.

That’s how important quarterback is in today’s landscape. A little loss of value is well worth the peace of mind.

Nonetheless, there are still Darnold suitors in the football ether, and specific deals exist that Douglas and the Jets find extremely intriguing.

Washington Football Team

  • Jets receive No. 19 (2021, Round 1)
  • Washington receives Sam Darnold, No. 34 (2021, Round 2) and possibly a 2022 third-round pick (NYJ)

I don’t know what it is, but I continuously see Darnold in the Football Team’s colors. While, admittedly, that information is as useless as a $2 bill, make of it what you will.

The proposed deal above sees the Jets move up 15 spots, turning their lone second-round pick into a third first-rounder. No. 19 is worth 875 points, according to Jimmy Johnson’s draft value chart, while No. 34 comes with a 560-point tag.

If Darnold is worth a second-round value in the eyes of Washington, he’s enough of a difference to get the job done here. If not, and Darnold falls somewhere in the third-round value, an extra pick such as a third-rounder next year will be needed to get it done.

The issue with Darnold to D.C. is the quantity at the team’s quarterback position. Ryan Fitzpatrick joins Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke, which means the organization has plenty of options. It just doesn’t have that one legitimate option.

Denver Broncos

  • Jets receive No. 71 (2021, Round 3)
  • Broncos receive Sam Darnold

The Denver Broncos pick ninth in the first round, which means it’d be tough for Douglas to maneuver into that draft slot. Therefore, we’ll roll with the standard third-rounder-for-Darnold deal here.

Unlike the next team on the list, I don’t see John Elway getting too crazy in any Darnold scenario.

Initially, ESPN’s Adam Schefter threw out a possible late-first-round value for Darnold (early in the offseason). As time progressed, conventional wisdom moved to a more realistic value for a quarterback whose production hasn’t matched his draft spot back in 2018.

Denver remains one of the two most likely teams to go in on Darnold. Recently, however, ABC Denver’s Troy Renck reported that the Broncos aren’t interested in acquiring Darnold at a second-round price.

Whether Elway pulls the trigger or not remains to be seen.

Carolina Panthers

Deal No. 1

  • Jets receive No. 73 (2021, Round 3)
  • Panthers receive Sam Darnold

The Carolina Panthers are perhaps the best situation for Darnold. With Matt Rhule and Joe Brady—to go along with former teammate Robby Anderson—he can enjoy immediate success.

The first deal sees the Jets receive the Panthers’ third-round pick—No. 73 overall. The second deal would be one that shakes up the 2021 NFL draft.

Deal No. 2

  • Jets receive No. 8 (2021, Round 1)
  • Panthers receive Sam Darnold, No. 23 (2021, Round 1), No. 66 (2021, Round 3) and possibly a 2022 third-round pick (NYJ)

Rumors suggest Carolina is in the market to move up for one of the top quarterbacks. The problem lies in the idea that the team most willing to trade down, the Matt Ryan-led Atlanta Falcons, won’t jump at the opportunity to hand a division rival a young quarterback. (The Cincinnati Bengals are also another possibility.)

The No. 8 pick comes with a 1,400-point value. The No. 23 overall pick is assigned with 760 points, while No. 66 has 260. Darnold would then make up the remaining 380 points. It might take a bit more to get this one done, as jumping into the top 10 is always costly, but Darnold should be deemed around 250 or so points (the cost of a late or early second-rounder). It’s why that extra 2022 third-round selection would be tossed into the mix.

Deal No. 3

  • Jets receive No. 8 (2021, Round 1) and No. 73 (2021, Round 3)
  • Panthers receive Sam Darnold, No. 23 (2021, Round 1), No. 34 (2021, Round 2)

The third Carolina deal is one I don’t envision Douglas wanting. No. 23 (760 points) and No. 34 (560 points) is a combined 1,320 points that nearly matches the 1,400-point value the No. 8 pick carries.

Darnold’s imaginary third-round value (250 or so points) could force the Panthers to throw an extra fourth-rounder into the mix (225 points).

It’s likely that Douglas is simply playing the most important position in sports safely. In the event he values both Darnold (as a guy who could lead the team) and Wilson in the No. 2 spot, the former doesn’t go anywhere until the latter is firmly in hand.

For all we know, the Jets have a deal or two already in the works and what happens on draft night will determine whether or not it happens.

For now, Sam Darnold is still the New York Jets quarterback, and that’s a good thing. Play the quarterback position as safely as possible while understanding there will always be at least a few teams in search of a youngster with talent and potential.

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3 years ago

“The Carolina Panthers are perhaps the best situation for Darnold. ” You called the landing spot, Robby, and can be forgiven for underestimating the haul. JD always gets back more than expected when he trades a player.