Sam Darnold, NY Jets, Trade, Stats, Contract, Option, Joe Douglas
Sam Darnold, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Getty Images

Joe Douglas’ cast-off Jets players aren’t doing much of note

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas has been a busy man on the trade market since taking over in 2019, especially when it comes to playing the role of the seller. He has executed eight trades that sent away a player in exchange for at least one draft selection.

Let’s check in on how the eight players sent away by Douglas are doing through six weeks of the 2021 season.

CB Parry Nickerson (Vikings)

  • Traded to Seattle for a conditional seventh-round pick on Aug. 31, 2019

A sixth-round pick by Mike Maccagnan in 2018, Nickerson lasted only one regular season in New York before Douglas sent him packing.

Following a 2019 preseason run with the Jets in which he allowed a 146.5 passer rating on throws in his direction, Douglas traded Nickerson to the Seahawks for a conditional seventh-round pick, which did not convey to New York as Nickerson never played for Seattle.

Since being released by the Vikings in 2019, Nickerson has played for the Jaguars, Packers, and Vikings. He has played three games on special teams for Minnesota this year but has not appeared on defense.

DT Leonard Williams (Giants)

  • Traded to New York for 2020 third-round pick (S Ashtyn Davis) and 2021 fifth-round pick (RB Michael Carter) on Oct. 28, 2019

Leonard Williams has easily been the most successful player of the eight traded away by Douglas. He had a career year in the 2020 season for the Giants, posting 11.5 sacks and 30 quarterback hits. That campaign netted him a three-year, $63 million deal with $45 million guaranteed.

Williams is enjoying a solid start to 2021 with three sacks and six quarterback hits in six games. He is also averaging a career-high 5.5 tackles per game.

S Jamal Adams (Seahawks)

  • Traded with 2022 fourth-round pick to Seattle for Bradley McDougald, 2021 first-round pick (traded to acquire pick used on Alijah Vera-Tucker), 2021 third-round pick (included in Vera-Tucker trade), and 2022 first-round pick on Jul. 25, 2020

At the time of this trade, it could be argued that Jamal Adams was the best safety in the NFL. He broke records as a blitzer, enjoyed dominance as a run defender, finished tackles at an elite consistency, and covered far more solidly than given credit for.

It is hard to imagine that Adams was even in that conversation at one point. He has turned into a liability.

In 2020, Adams continued to blitz incredibly well as he set a record for defensive backs with 9.5 sacks, but he had a career-worst year as a run defender, as a tackler, and in coverage. He rated average or below-average in most metrics related to those three categories.

That campaign was disappointing, but it wasn’t catastrophically bad – which is what Adams’ 2021 season has been.

Through six games, Adams has zero sacks, zero quarterback hits, zero interceptions, zero forced fumbles, zero fumble recoveries, and one pass defended.

In coverage, Adams owns a 54.3 grade at Pro Football Focus, ranking at the 27th percentile among qualified safeties.

As a run defender, Adams owns a career-low 62.8 PFF grade, ranking at the position’s 35th percentile.

Worst of all, Adams is not even a great blitzer anymore. He has a measly total of one pressure despite leading safeties with 28 pass-rush snaps.

Adams is also sixth at the position in missed tackles with seven. He is on pace for a career-high 20 missed tackles after missing just 13 tackles over 30 games from 2018-19 with the Jets.

Largely thanks to Adams, Seattle’s defense is ranked 32nd with 433.2 yards allowed per game.

The Jets used the two picks they acquired from Seattle in the 2021 draft to trade up and select Alijah Vera-Tucker, who has been one of the best young offensive linemen in the NFL this season. Seattle’s 2022 first-round pick would land in the 10th overall slot based on the current standings.

This is quickly turning into one of the most one-sided trades in recent NFL history.

DT Steve McLendon (Buccaneers)

  • Traded with 2023 seventh-round pick to Tampa Bay for 2022 sixth-round pick on Oct. 21, 2020

The Steve McLendon trade was the first of three deals made by Douglas in his fire sale ahead of the 2020 trade deadline as his team continued to extend its winless start.

McLendon was a nice pickup for Todd Bowles and the Buccaneers, contributing minorly to their championship run. He had five tackles and three quarterback hits over three playoff games, playing 23 snaps in the Super Bowl.

In 2021, the 35-year-old McLendon has played in all six games, handling a minor role as he only averages 16.5 snaps per game. He has three tackles.

McLendon and Williams are the only players on this list who could be considered solid pickups for their new teams at the moment. But from the Jets’ perspective, it was still a win to move up one round in the draft in exchange for a 34-year-old role player on a winless team.

EDGE Jordan Willis (49ers)

  • Traded with 2021 seventh-round pick for 2022 sixth-round pick on Oct. 21, 2020

Jordan Willis had one sack and two quarterback hits in 11 games as a Jet. It was a surprise that the Jets could nab anything for him in a trade.

Willis collected 2.5 sacks and five quarterback hits in seven games for Robert Saleh’s 49ers to finish the 2020 season. However, he has yet to play in 2021 as he is in the midst of completing a six-game suspension for a PED violation.

LB Avery Williamson (Titans)

  • Traded with 2022 seventh-round pick to Pittsburgh for 2022 fifth-round pick on Nov. 2, 2020

Avery Williamson had a great debut season with the Jets in 2018 but was not the same player after missing the 2019 season with an ACL injury. He was obliterated in coverage throughout the 2020 season before Douglas flipped him to Pittsburgh in exchange for a two-round leap in the 2022 draft.

Williamson played eight games for the Steelers, starting four. He made plays against the run but was scorched in coverage to the tune of a 141.0 passer rating and three touchdowns on throws in his direction.

We have yet to see Williamson take the field in 2021. He is currently on the Titans’ practice squad.

QB Sam Darnold (Panthers)

  • Traded to Carolina for 2021 sixth-round pick (packaged in a draft-day trade with a fifth-round pick to acquire two selections that were used on Jason Pinnock and Jonathan Marshall), 2022 second-round pick, and 2022 fourth-round pick on Apr. 5, 2021

It is much too early to make any declarations about this trade. Neither team made the deal to take victory laps after six weeks.

With that being said, Sam Darnold has yet to make Douglas second-guess trading him away.

Darnold is tied for fourth in the league in both interceptions (7) and fumbles (5). His combined total of 12 interceptions and fumbles leads the NFL.

Since leading Carolina to a hot 3-0 start, Darnold has quickly fallen back down to his career norms. He ranks 28th out of 32 qualified quarterbacks with a 79.7 passer rating this season, which is almost identical to his career average of 78.7. The only four qualified quarterbacks with a worse passer rating are rookies.

Darnold has plenty of time to turn things around, but the results through six games are not what the Panthers hoped they would be getting.

TE Chris Herndon (Vikings)

  • Traded with 2022 sixth-round pick to Minnesota for 2022 fourth-round pick on Aug. 31, 2021

Chris Herndon was surprisingly dealt on the final day of August despite the Jets’ severe lack of talent in the tight end room.

So far, it does not look like Herndon would have made the Jets’ weak tight end unit any better.

Herndon has played in every game for the Vikings but is seldom used as he averages only 12.3 snaps per game and has seen a measly three targets. Just one of those was caught, which was a 2-yard touchdown against Carolina this past Sunday (a completely uncontested catch).

Overall returns

Let’s round up Douglas’ complete haul in his eight player-for-pick deals.

Here is what Douglas traded away:

  • Parry Nickerson
  • Leonard Williams
  • Jamal Adams
  • Steve McLendon
  • Jordan Willis
  • Avery Williamson
  • Sam Darnold
  • Chris Herndon
  • 2022 fourth-round pick
  • 2022 sixth-round pick
  • 2021 seventh-round pick
  • 2022 seventh-round pick
  • 2023 seventh-round pick

This is what Douglas got in return for the above assets:

  • Bradley McDougald
  • 2021 first-round pick
  • 2022 first-round pick
  • 2022 second-round pick
  • 2020 third-round pick
  • 2021 third-round pick
  • 2022 fourth-round pick
  • 2022 fourth-round pick
  • 2021 fifth-round pick
  • 2022 fifth-round pick
  • 2021 sixth-round pick
  • 2022 sixth-round pick
  • 2022 sixth-round pick

On paper, those trades appear to have collectively netted a massive amount of positive value for Douglas.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at] - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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1 year ago

This is a good start, more importantly he has aligned the organization, for the first time in a while, GM, Coach, Draft picks, QB, and salary cap are all on the same time table. Now….the QB better work out or it’s all for not. It’s early but he looks years away, if he’s successful at all.

1 year ago

So far so good, I’m going to believe in the process that in another year or so, we will get competitive as a whole team. Not just defensively competitive.