FLORHAM PARK, NJ – Explaining the biggest trade in his two years in office, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said the decision to trade quarterback Sam Darnold was based primarily on two factors: draft position and finances.
“I think it’s safe to say that if our election were a little later, we wouldn’t have this discussion right now,” Douglas told reporters Tuesday on a Zoom call. “We would be completely comfortable if we went ahead with Sam.”
The Jets, who picked second in the April 29 NFL draft, traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for three draft picks: a sixth-round pick from 2021, plus a second and fourth-round pick from 2022.
In second place, the Jets are expected to select BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
Douglas downplayed the possibility of swapping the pick. He acknowledged the obvious, saying they are locked in a quarterback. But he would not say which, insisting that the final decision has yet to be made.
“We feel really good about the draft class as a whole and the quarterback class, specifically,” Douglas said. “This was an opportunity to hit the reset button financially, so to speak.”
That was an important factor, the sources said.
The second pick in the draft will get a four-year contract worth $ 35 million, fully guaranteed, a fixed cost that will allow financial flexibility for years to come. Meanwhile, Darnold was scheduled to count $ 9.8 million in the final year of his rookie contract. The Jets could have exercised their fifth-year option for 2022, but the cost would have been $ 18.9 million.
It would have been $ 28.7 million for two years compared to $ 35 million for four. There is also a maximum limit of $ 5 million for switching to Darnold.
Although Douglas was praiseworthy with Darnold, the organization believes he will find improvement with the second pick. Darnold, selected third overall in 2018, fell short of expectations and was the lowest-rated quarterback in the league the past three seasons.
Douglas admitted the Jets didn’t do enough to help Darnold, saying they have to do a better job surrounding the next talented quarterback.
The team toyed with the idea of retaining Darnold and pairing him with a rookie, Douglas confirmed. In the end, the Jets decided it would have been a distraction for all parties.
Ultimately, that wouldn’t be the best situation for Sam, for the rookie quarterback, for the coach. [Robert] Saleh and his staff, and the locker room, “said Douglas.” We felt this was the best decision for the entire organization going forward, hitting the reset button. “
Douglas said he has had “conversations with many teams,” including the Panthers, regarding the second pick, but would not characterize any of those discussions as meaningful.
The plan is to stay at No. 2 and pick a quarterback. Barring one surprise, it will be Wilson. If they had been picking in the 12-14 range, they would have rolled with Darnold, the general manager said.
“Based on the decision we made [Monday]”Said Douglas,” you can see the direction we’re headed. “