It might be the most pivotal draft for the New York Jets since 1965 when Joe Namath became their franchise quarterback. Holding the second overall pick in April’s 2021 NFL Draft, the Jets are the keyholders of the draft.
Assuming that they don’t select a quarterback, general manager Joe Douglas is in a prime position to trade back and substantially upgrade the roster. Teams interested in targeting BYU quarterback Zach Wilson or Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields will be interested in the second pick.
It makes the Jets, sitting on nearly $70 million in space under the salary cap, in a position to accelerate their rebuild. Trade back, accrue draft capital, and add both starting talent and depth in this draft.
Could Jets really give Darnold another season?
But it all comes down to what the Jets will do at quarterback and if they will keep Sam Darnold. Former NFL general manager Randy Mueller thinks keeping Darnold makes sense.
“I don’t know what will be in the mix but for me, and I’ve studied Sam Darnold, I think there’s a lot of tread left on Sam Darnold. If they’re OK with him, it puts them in a power position to move that pick, as close as No. 4. I probably wouldn’t stay put and draft an offensive line,” Mueller told FanSided’s ‘With the First Pick.’
“I just think it is too valuable to not trade and fill two or three holes. They have multiple needs – this is all on being sold on Sam Darnold and I am. They should be able to make hay. I think they can parlay the No. 2 pick into filling a bunch of needs.”
Mueller is a highly-respected former NFL executive, having been general manager of the New Orleans Saints as well as spending time with the Seattle Seahawks, Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers.
Of Douglas, set for his second draft in charge of the perennially rebuilding Jets, Mueller said “He needs to be a deal maker, he needs to be a broker. He needs that visionary mindset.”
What other options do Jets have?
Darnold has had an up and down three years with the Jets. While talented, he has yet to play a full regular season in the NFL and has struggled with turnovers.
The rumor mill is ripe with reports that the Jets are listening to offers for the quarterback that took third overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.
“I think they would part…if they can upgrade. I’m not buying the rumor that they’re interested in [Teddy] Bridgewater, that’s not a clear-cut upgrade. I think [the San Francisco 49ers] would be interested in Sam Darnold. You have to view where Sam was at USC and what the Jets plan for him was,” Mueller said.
“I don’t think we’ve seen Sam Darnold anywhere near developing and I think there’s a reason for it. And smart people in the NFL see that.” Robert Saleh will be Darnold’s third head coach in four NFL seasons, should he remain on the roster. In addition, Mike LaFleur will be his third offensive coordinator in the league.