TOJ Instant Reaction: The New York Jets Trade Sam Darnold

DA Osorio offers his instant reaction on the Sam Darnold Trade.

In a move that everybody should’ve seen coming, the New York Jets have traded Quarterback Sam Darnold. What many didn’t see coming, judging by the amount of times a lot of us suggested other teams, was that it would be the Carolina Panthers that would pony up the draft capital Joe Douglas wanted to move on from his presumptive starter three weeks before the NFL Draft. 

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The Carolina Panthers are sending the Jets a 2021 6th rounder and a 2022 2nd and 4th round pick to the New York Jets. In exchange, the Panthers will receive the former third overall pick. The Panthers have subsequently picked up Darnold’s 5th year option, slated to come in around $18M for the 2022 season.

For the Panthers, this is them realizing that they are in No Man’s Land when it comes to the quarterbacks in this draft and that had they not made this move they would’ve had to run things back with Teddy Bridgewater. In a division where the Saints do not have a QB and the Falcons have an aging one, the Panthers saw a chance to compete for a playoff spot with even marginally better QB play than what they got last year. Sam Darnold, in a Joe Brady offense, gives them a small chance to get that. 

However, for the Jets this is Joe Douglas slamming the door on the Adam Gase and Mike Maccagnan era of incompetence. This is Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh realizing what a lot of Jets fans already saw: that for, no matter how nice a kid Sam is, the results just were not there over three injury-riddled seasons. The 13-25 record in 38 out of a possible 48 starts will get the attention, but it’s the under 60% completion percentage that should draw more eyes. In a quarterback-friendly league, it is absolutely unacceptable to complete under 60% of your passes. It’s the 45 touchdowns to 39 interceptions and the 6.6 yards per completion, and the 98 sacks that he’s taken that he deserves some blame for given his propensity to not get rid of the ball. It’s the 20% of Darnold throws that were charted as bad throws: to put this in perspective, Browns QB Baker Mayfield and former league MVP Lamar Jackson both came in at about 17% with Bills QB Josh Allen, he of the many accuracy issues entering the league, coming off a season where he landed at 16% of his throws being charted as bad. It’s Sam being in the top 10 in interceptable passes, 30th in accuracy rating, 35th in true completion percentage, 37th in completion percentage off play action, 62nd (as in worse than most backups) in completion percentage in the red zone, 33rd in deep ball completion percentage, and 43rd in catchable passes.

Make absolutely zero mistakes about it: as much as a good kid as Sam is, Sam has been the worst starting QB in the NFL by about every metric. Joe Douglas realized that his team cannot go to where he wants it to go, where he’s been to twice already, with Sam at the helm of his team. He did what was best for his handpicked Head Coach and the team that is, now, very much his. 

The New York Jets are now armed with 21 picks in the next two drafts. We have rightfully focused on the two firsts and two thirds they have in 2021 but, after this trade, they will have 5 picks in the top 100 in 2022. That means Joe Douglas has eight picks over the next two years in the NFL Draft to add around his presumptive franchise QB. Hitting on his QB, whoever it is at 2, means using other high picks to build a team that should be playoff bound come 2022. One thing Douglas has shown is he has an ability to extract the most possible value when he is negotiating, as he has now gotten more than expected for two players that were not a part of his plans going forward. 

It’s Joe Douglas’s time now. 

Author: Dalbin Osorio

Dalbin Osorio is a Case Planner for Graham-Windham, New York's oldest child welfare agency. He is, also, a student at the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Dalbin graduated from Monroe College with a degree in Business Administration. A 3 sport utility man in high school (think a mix of Jerome WIlliams, Brad Smith, and Jayson Nix), he joined TOJ in 2013.