The New York Jets will have a new starting quarterback in the 2021 NFL season. The franchise officially confirmed on Tuesday that they traded signal-caller Sam Darnold, sending him to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for three draft picks.
The Jets will get a sixth-round selection in 2021 alongside a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2022, according to the announcement.
The move signals a full reset for the Jets as the franchise also hired a new coach earlier this offseason. Robert Saleh, the former defensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers, took over the position from Adam Gase.
Speaking with reporters on Tuesday, Jets general manager Joe Douglas said that the decision to trade Darnold was influenced by several factors. The first was the team’s draft position, considering they have the No. 2 pick in 2021 and have the opportunity to select a new franchise QB from a strong draft class.
“I think it’s safe to say, if our pick were a little later, we wouldn’t be having this discussion right now,” said Douglas.
He also added that the organization would be “comfortable with moving forward” with Darnold in this case: “We feel really good about the draft class as a whole and the quarterback class, specifically.”
According to Douglas, another reason was the ability to get some financial relief. Darnold would cost $28.7 million over the next two years compared to the $35 million they would spend on a rookie QB.
The Jets are widely expected to go for BYU’s Zach Wilson. However, several other young quarterbacks might be in play as well, including Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama’s Mac Jones, and North Dakota’s Trey Lance.
The Carolina Panthers, on the other hand, get a quarterback with a high ceiling to provide competition for 2020’s starter Teddy Bridgewater. Sam Darnold is just three years removed from being the No. 3 pick, and the organization believes he can live up to his potential if put in the right situation.
Darnold made 38 starts for the Jets, posting a 13-25 record. He completed 59.8 percent of his passes as a pro while throwing for 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns, and 39 interceptions.