The Sam Darnold era is officially over. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New York Jets have traded the former #3 overall pick to the Carolina Panthers, for a 2021 6th Rd pick and a 2nd and 4th Rd pick in 2022. Jets’ General Manager Joe Douglas got maximum value for Darnold, despite the 23 year old QB never ranking higher than 20th in QBR or passer rating.
The 2022-centric haul leaves Gang Green in a terrific position from a draft asset perspective. The team has now accumulated a staggering 21 draft picks over the next two seasons. This year, the Jets have a pair of picks in the 1st Rd, 3rd Rd, 5th Rd and 6th Rds respectively. In 2022 they will pick twice in the 1st, 2nd and 4th Rd. The Jets are loaded with draft picks, to surround their rookie QB with talent and allow him to succeed. It’s the complete opposite of 2018, when Mike Maccagnan had to trade away three 2nd round picks to secure Darnold and consequently, starved the roster of young play-makers. This time, the Jets have the formula right.
I love the strategy Douglas is deploying, to stash assets for the 2022 season. The NFL draft is always a crapshoot. However, in 2021 this is more true than ever. COVID had an enormous effect on CFB this year and has limited the tape players have put out as well as team’s exposure to the prospects. You could argue that 2022 draft picks have more certainty and stability than those in the upcoming draft. In conjunction with that, the Jets aren’t winning a Super Bowl this year. Keeping cost effective assets for 2022 and beyond, when you window to win is open, is smart team building.
For months, fans and experts alike have speculated that Joe Douglas and the Jets would trade Darnold and take a quarterback at #2 in the upcoming NFL Draft. We got confirmation of that on Friday, when the 49ers traded up with the Dolphins, while New York stood pat, unable to be swayed by an offer that included two additional 1st round picks.
Meanwhile, Darnold lands in Carolina, who are fast becoming the New York Jets of the south. He joins old friend and WR1 Robby Anderson, former Jets quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and HC Matt Rhule, the coach who slipped through the team’s fingers in 2019. While he didn’t meet expectations in New York, I hope that Darnold thrives with the Panthers. Like many Jets fans, I understand that the majority of blame for his shortcomings should be shouldered by Maccagnan, Gase and the organisation.
Between today’s Darnold trade and the Adams/Williams moves, Joe Douglas has set the Jets up for long term, sustainable success. He’s backing his ability to evaluate talent, something his predecessors failed to do. It’s now essential he drafts well, continues to build the core of the roster and most importantly, nails the pick at #2.