Judging by the number of teams dipping into any number of quarterback sweepstakes, it isn’t a stretch to suggest this is a good time to have a prospect worth putting out there if you’re looking for trade assets.
Because even the most frustrating, polarizing, and disappointing quarterback prospects are getting real buzz that hints at real, valuable trade capital could be had in a deal:
SCHEFTER: Value for #Jets QB Sam Darnold is a late first.
— uSTADIUM (@uSTADIUM) February 3, 2021
ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the value for Jets quarterback Sam Darnold is a late first-round pick. To which I say: Excuse me? A late first-round pick for Sam Darnold? Is that what it’s come to?
Darnold, 23, is under contract for 2021, and then has his fifth year option available at upwards of $25 million for 2022. He is coming off a season in which he threw more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (9). One in which he completed just 59.6 percent of his passes, posted career-worsts in yards/attempt (6.1) and yards/game (184.0), and finished with a passer rating of 72.7. And this is to say nothing of the unsightly 2-10 record he posted as the Jets’ starter last season (to be fair, not even peak-Tom Brady was getting those Jets to the .500 mark in 2020). Nevertheless, the idea of Darnold netting a first-round pick is outlandish. Even a late-first, which the Bears possess with the 20th overall pick. Let me explain why.
The Bears first popped up as a possible landing spot for Darnold in October. Back then, Schefter heard from a league GM that the Jets would ask for a first-round pick. But ultimately, Schefter essentially comes to the conclusion that compensation in a Darnold deal would be similar to what the Cardinals acquired from the Dolphins in the Josh Rosen trade in 2019. If you’re unfamiliar with that deal, Miami sent second- and fifth-round picks for Rosen. That Darnold’s play tanked in the weeks and months that followed that initial report makes me wonder how Darnold’s value is a first-round pick. This is genuinely puzzling to me.
With that said, we shouldn’t dismiss Darnold completely. He still has a unique skill set and a unique prospect pedigree. There’s a non-zero chance that all he needs is a clean slate, fresh start, and new outlook. But there’s a real chance that three years with the Jets and two seasons under the failed guidance of Adam Gase has done serious damage to the developmental curve. And if that’s the case, then Darnold isn’t a fit in Chicago. Because with jobs on the line, it’s tough to imagine Matt Nagy and Ryan Pace tying their future to a developmental project who has minimal contract control. Logistically, it doesn’t line up.
Then again, we’re talking about the Bears. So I suppose anything is on the table.