The New York Jets are starting over. With the trade of Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, the Jets announced they would start fresh at quarterback.
The trade made sense. While there were plenty of things that may have held Darnold back with the Jets, he still failed to show the upside that made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. If the Jets had doubts about Darnold reaching that ceiling, the team could just take a quarterback with the No. 2 pick and move on.
That explains why they made the move, right? Well, it's more complicated than that. Turns out, Jets general manager Joe Douglas believes the Jets failed Darnold, and that Darnold will be a successful player with the Panthers, Douglas told Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.
“Whether I look bad or not [for trading Darnold], I could give two s***s about that,” Douglas says, with a laugh. “I know that he’s gonna have success. The timing didn’t really work out for him here. We couldn’t turn this around fast enough for him. And that’s not his fault. I root for good people, and that dude’s a good man, and he’s gonna do good things. I believe that.”
There are plenty of reasons to believe Douglas is being truthful with those words. The Jets were never able to surround Darnold with a good offense, and Adam Gase's history as a head coach is pretty awful. In Carolina, Darnold will not only have multiple strong receivers and Christian McCaffrey, he'll get to work with Matt Rhule, who is considered and up-and-coming offensive mind. He should be able to get more out of Darnold than Gase.
At the same time, it's possible Douglas was just covering himself with those comments. If Darnold goes on to make multiple Pro Bowls or All-Pro teams with the Panthers, Douglas is going to look foolish for giving up on Darnold. Those comments could be Douglas' way of trying to lessen the blow when people reminisce about the deal.
What will the Jets do at quarterback?
With the Jacksonville Jaguars expected to select Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it's assumed the Jets will take Zach Wilson with the No. 2 pick. Douglas didn't confirm the move to Breer, but strongly hinted Wilson would be the pick.
Douglas won’t say yet who he’s taking, but it’s not hard to read the tea leaves and assume that it’ll be Wilson. [Jets' head coach Robert] Saleh was present in Provo, and on a media Zoom call when presented with the news that ex-Cougar QB Steve Young said that the Jets had committed to taking Wilson, Douglas responded that “Steve’s plugged in pretty well at BYU.”
Our own Eric Edholm also believes the Jets will take Wilson. Edholm believes Wilson would be the Jets' "most exciting talent at QB in many years."
That's a good thing, though it's worth noting Darnold was also a highly-ranked talent and the Jets still failed him. Douglas will have to be sure that doesn't happen again, especially if he's right and Darnold returns to form in Carolina.
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