🚨 Jets Trade Sam Darnold to Panthers

Via Adam Schefter:

Congratulations to Sam Darnold for getting out of New York. He now gets to play with Christian McCaffrey (who we all know is a monster), DJ Moore (who’s a lot better than people realize) and Robby Anderson (again). Those guys represent a massive upgrade over the skill players Darnold was working with in New York.

Even though Carolina only won 5 games in 2020, they are way ahead of the Jets in terms of organizational competence and how close they are to being a competitive team in the NFL. Darnold is now going to be working with Joe Brady, the Panthers’ promising young offensive coordinator. This is a much better situation.

As for the Jets, they gain a 6th rounder this year and a 2nd & a 4th in next year’s draft. I don’t know. The Jets really couldn’t get more for this year? It feels like the Panthers did great here by not paying too much for Darnold. It’s a low-risk move.

Anyway, this trade tells me a few things:

  • If Sam Darnold is worth a 6th, and then a 2nd & a 4th next year, what is Jimmy Garoppolo’s trade value? It has to be more than that, right?. Well, he’s a better QB than Darnold right now, for sure, although I think Darnold’s trade value was based more on teams seeing future potential for improvement, whereas Jimmy G’s trade value is based on his actual, current playing level. So maybe the market value is pretty similar for both guys; I wouldn’t assume that this Darnold trade means Garoppolo is worth a first-rounder.
  • The potential trade market for DeShaun Watson appears to be drying up. Cross San Fran and now Carolina off the list of teams that could’ve made a trade for Watson. It’s looking like more and more teams have no interest in pursuing DeShaun Watson, although there are other potential suitors. As of yesterday prior to the Darnold trade, Covers had the Panthers as the most likely trade destination for Watson, excluding staying in Houston of course. Now that Carolina is out of the running, the Bears are the favorite.
  • The Panthers probably don’t think any of the top 5 QBs will be available to them at #8. Otherwise why else would they commit to Sam Darnold before the draft? They probably reached the conclusion that it’s unlikely any of the top 5 QBs in the draft will be available by the #8 pick.
  • Or, they could think one QB will be available to them at #8, but they are reasonably sure they know who it is, they aren’t really in love with him, and would rather have Sam Darnold instead.
  • But I really think it’s the former. I think the Panthers have come to the conclusion that there won’t be any QBs available to draft at #8.
  • Zach Wilson to the Jets is basically confirmed. They don’t have a quarterback anymore. Darnold is gone and so is Joe Flacco. They literally have no choice but to draft a QB at #2.
  • So the top two picks are guaranteed to be Lawrence and Wilson.
  • And if those two will be gone after pick #2, and we can reasonably assume the remaining three QBs will be gone in the next 5 picks, and we know the Bengals and Dolphins aren’t taking QBs in the draft, and we also know the 49ers are taking a QB at #3, then this means the Falcons will probably take a QB at #4, and then… I guess the Lions are going to take a QB at #7?
  • It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if the Lions took a QB. I know they just traded for Jared Goff, but really that trade was more the Rams trading for Stafford than anything else. By no means are the Lions committed to Jared Goff as their QB of the future. Would it be surprising at all if Detroit doesn’t want to roll with Goff? I mean, come on: the Rams gave up on him. It’s not like Detroit thinks he’s the guy who will lead them to a Super Bowl.
  • So if we take the reports at face value and the 49ers truly are going to take Mac Jones at 3, and we also take the reports that the Falcons like Trey Lance more than Fields (which I don’t understand at all), then I guess Justin Fields is going to the Lions.
  • Of course, it could also mean the Panthers would rather have Darnold than Fields, but this seems hard to believe.
  • This means the Bengals will probably go Sewell at #5, and then the Dolphins are between Chase and Pitts at #6. It’s tough to say who they’d prefer, but if I had to guess I’d say it’ll be Pitts. He’s just such a generational talent at the tight end position. Chase is awesome, but Kyle Pitts will probably be the best tight end in the league within 3 years. There’s more wide receiver depth in the draft beyond Chase, but Kyle Pitts is one of a kind.
  • So I’m guessing the top 7 will go as follows: Lawrence, Wilson, Jones, Lance, Sewell, Pitts, Fields.
  • Then we have the Panthers at #8, will they draft Chase even though they already have Robby Anderson and DJ Moore? I don’t know about that. I think they will go for either Rashawn Slater on the O-line or Surtain II at cornerback. Maybe they go Micah Parsons to replace Luke Kuechly at linebacker. Personally, I’d recommend they go Slater, because they ranked 23rd in pass blocking win rate last season. They need to upgrade that offensive line. But they also have a bad defense, too; the Panthers have a lot of needs right now. The draft starts getting interesting at pick #8.

I don’t think Sam Darnold is a bust–yet. I think he was in a nearly impossible situation. The Jets did not give him weapons, nor did they protect him at all.

I think there’s a good chance Sam Darnold turns his career around in Carolina with Matt Rhule, Joe Brady and Christian McCaffrey.

But if Darnold does not show major improvements this season with the Panthers, there will not be a second chance for him. He will officially be a bust.

It’s possible the Jets are right about him and that he’s the latest USC QB to disappoint in the NFL. I wrote in a previous post that the idea of Sam Darnold is more appealing than the reality of Sam Darnold–teams saw him as a way to essentially get a top draft pick without paying top draft pick price, assuming that the Jets just mismanaged his whole career. But we cannot just act like the first three years of his career never happened. He’s been in the league for three years and he has not been a good QB for any of them. It’s very possible he’s just not a good quarterback.

But it’s also possible that the Jets are completely incompetent and failed him in every way. That’s the bet the Panthers just took.

Apparently, according to ESPN, the Jets are about to become the first team in the modern history of the NFL (c. 1967) to draft two QBs within the top 3 picks in a four year span. That’s a special level of sucking.

In the Jets’ defense, though, they did replace their head coach and GM, so you can’t blame the new regime of Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas for wanting to draft their own QB. After all, Darnold was drafted by the last regime and generally a new incoming regime wants to start off with its own guy at quarterback. It’s the reason the Panthers were even trade targets for Darnold in the first place: once the Panthers parted ways with Ron Rivera, they got rid of Cam Newton as well.

It’s just how the NFL works.

One additional factor was that Darnold‘s rookie deal is close to expiring. Rookie deals go for 4 years with a team option for picking up a 5th year. Darnold was drafted in 2018 and has been in the NFL for 3 years, and you generally have to decide if you’re going to pick up a guy’s 5th year option before year 4, so the Jets were not about to do that.

The Panthers immediately picked up Darnold’s 5th year option after the trade, preventing him from becoming a free agent until 2023.

The Jets’ new regime probably wanted to start with a rookie QB on a rookie contract, as it gives them 4-5 years to build up a stacked roster without having to pay their quarterback a ton of money. Picking Wilson resets the clock for the Jets in terms of the salary cap.

***

Final point of emphasis: Sam Darnold made “the Zach Wilson throw,” except it was in an NFL game:

But sure, everybody lose their minds over Zach Wilson making nice throws at his pro day.

Octavian

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