The Jets have a new head coach in Robert Saleh. There are some questions about what the hiring means for quarterback Sam Darnold. ESPN insider Adam Schefter offered some interesting insight in an interview last evening.
We must note that Schefter did not definitively say Darnold would return. This is only what he expects to happen. This is smokescreen season in the NFL. Anything can happen. However, Schefter doesn’t just throw out rumors. Him saying that both Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh believe in Darnold carries some weight.
Over the last few weeks there have been numerous reports that Darnold’s trade value remains high despite a miserable third season in the NFL. Many Jets fans have celebrated the idea that the team could get a good pick for the beleaguered quarterback. However, these reports have led me to believe the perception among NFL teams about Darnold might be very different than the perception in the Jets fanbase. If other teams covet Darnold, it isn’t a stretch to believe Douglas and the next coaching hire might as well.
One thing that is important to note is the Jets are not tied to Darnold for the long term. Even if he returns as the starting quarterback in 2021, the team would not need to commit more than a single year to him. It would essentially be an audition. The situation was different two years ago when we knew the coach who was hired was tied to Darnold.
You certainly could make a strong case for the Jets to draft a quarterback this year. The team holds the second overall pick. I don’t think that is a lock, however.
Saleh comes to the Jets from the 49ers. He was part of a coaching staff that arrived in San Francisco in 2017 with a comparable rebuilding task to the one currently facing the Jets. The Niners held the second overall pick and were in desperate need of a quarterback. They traded down one slot, allowing the Bears to take Mitchell Trubisky. San Francisco got its quarterback in a midseason trade that year involving Jimmy Garoppolo.
The Jets had a lot of Draft capital, but they still might not have enough to fill out their roster. The second pick could be valuable for a team looking to move up. The Jets could fill in the pieces, and if Darnold fails have a full roster waiting for the next quarterback they draft. That could help them avoid another saga where too much is placed on a young quarterback.
Of course there is a full offseason to go, and the Jets still could easily pick a quarterback in the first round. Either way this topic is likely to dominate the offseason.