The quarterback carousel is far from over. While Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson steal the headlines, there is one quarterback who has begun to fly under the radar.
That could end soon, however. New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is likely to be traded sooner rather than later, as they seem prepared to take Zach Wilson with the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. But who would pursue Darnold in a trade?
In Albert Breer’s Monday Morning QB, he reported the Carolina Panthers and Pittsburgh Steelers were the most likely landing spots for the young quarterback. This is what he had to say on the potential suitors for the Jets quarterback.
“I’d keep an eye on Carolina and Pittsburgh. Darnold would represent a worthy, and affordable, dart to throw at the quarterback board if the Panthers are convinced the quarterbacks they’d want will be gone by the time they pick at eighth (and Atlanta having the fourth pick doesn’t help them). As for the Steelers, if the price is right they could see some similarities in how Darnold plays to how their own quarterback did in his early 20s, and throw Darnold in there to compete with Dwayne Haskins to be Ben Roethlisberger’s heir. Washington and Denver have also come up as possible landing spots, though I know each had some misgivings on his tape.”
Whenever there is a rumor about a trade, the first question that comes to a fan's mind is, "what will we have to give up?" When this conversation about Darnold arose two months ago, many people, including myself, thought that it would take a late first or early second round pick. Based off recent reports, however, that may not be the case.
According to Kimberly Martin of ESPN, the Jets will likely get only a third round pick, at best. Here was what she had to say about it in her tweet.
"Talked to three NFL GMs about the market for Sam Darnold. I asked what’s the most they’d be willing to give up: Two said a 3rd Rd pick — with one saying even a late 3rd would be 'a little rich.' The other GM said 'maybe' a 3rd or conditional 4th."
This follows previous reports that the Jets would be willing to trade Darnold, even if they do not receive a first round pick in return.
Source: Jets are open to trading Sam Darnold without getting back a first-round pick.— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaSports) March 26, 2021
Darnold is currently in the final year of his contract, but the team that trades for him will have the opportunity to exercise his fifth year option if a trade occurs before the league deadline to pick up the option. The fifth year option is $18,858,000 fully guaranteed, which will make it difficult for the Jets to trade him at all unless they are able to find a way to take on some of his contract, at least some of the money for this season.
Darnold has struggled badly in New York, but let's not lose sight of the fact that he has been in an offense whose best receivers were Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios. Denzel Mims was expected to be a go-to target for Darnold, but Mims battled injuries last season and was not much of a factor. His offensive line has been painful to watch as well. He has been sacked 98 times in his three seasons in New York. The Steelers have work to do of their own on the offensive line, but after sitting behind Ben Roethlisberger for a year, being in a Matt Canada offense, having a deep group of wide receivers, and having an offensive line with potentially two second-year studs, Pittsburgh could be the perfect place for Darnold to revive his career.
It is also worth mentioning that he is the same age as Kyle Trask. Because he was drafted so young, we are still looking at a 23 year old prospect. So there is still plenty of time for Darnold to turn it around.
But what do you think? Would you give up a 3rd or 4th round pick for Darnold in either this year's or next year's draft? Be sure to light up the comment section with your thoughts on whether or not the Steelers should pursue the Jets quarterback.