The New York Jets are obviously set for the future with Sam Darnold, but the team would be wise to seek help in case he misses more games.
New York Jets Offseason Positional Preview: Part 1
The Position: Quarterback
Current Names on Roster: Sam Darnold
Free Agents: Trevor Siemian, David Fales
Reserve/Future: Mike White
The position on the position
The sophomore season of Sam Darnold, the obvious franchise option until proven otherwise, was another roller coaster. Albeit, one with a few more hills. The second-year New York Jets quarterback went from four wins to seven and improved in nearly every major passing statistic.
But for the second straight season, Darnold failed to play a full 16-game slate. Mononucleosis kept him out for three games, matching his injury-related absence from his freshman campaign. The Jets are 0-6 over the past two seasons in games started by someone other than Darnold.
The University of Southern California product firmly stands as the franchise quarterback. But the Jets need to put themselves in a position where his absence isn’t a death sentence. They need depth, and adding a veteran teacher for Darnold wouldn’t hurt. Thus, they’ll likely be on the lookout for backup help this offseason.
Trevor Siemian – The former Denver Bronco and Minnesota Viking was perhaps the perfect contingency option in case of an emergency. He had starting experience with enough skill to keep the team afloat if he had to step onto the field.
Unfortunately, Siemian didn’t even make it to halftime in his first and only fill-in start for Darnold. He succumbed to a season-ending ankle injury in a September loss to Cleveland. The Jets could certainly bring him back on a similar deal (one-year, $2 million).
David Fales – A former Adam Gase disciple in Miami and Chicago, Fales was brought in when both Darnold and Siemian were lost to the injured list. His connection to Gase could buy him another year, but the Jets would probably be better off going with someone who has starting experience. Fales’ only meaningful action came in Miami’s 2017 finale.
Will They Draft?
Unlikely. The Jets have dedicated themselves to Darnold as the starter and have far too many problems to waste a pick on a young quarterback.
Besides, the fickle nature of NFL quarterback proceedings could produce an unnecessary controversy. An undrafted camp arm could be added, but the Jets will likely instead turn to veteran help in search of a Darnold understudy.
Veteran Names to Watch
Matt Moore, Kansas City – Moore was the starter in the lone playoff game Gase presided over (a 2017 AFC Wild Card loss with the Dolphins). It’s part of what’s become a decent career as a serviceable backup for Moore, who entered the league after going undrafted in 2007.
Moore’s services were recently called upon by the Chiefs when Patrick Mahomes went down this year. In two starts (1-1), Moore threw for 542 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. He previously came up huge in securing the aforementioned wild-card spot for Gase at the end of the 2016-17 season.
Darnold constantly spoke on the wonders Josh McCown did for him during his rookie season. Moore, set to turn 36 in August, can fill a similar role.
A.J. McCarron, Houston – Set to turn 30 in September, McCarron would be a younger version of Moore. He too has made a playoff start after an injury to a starter. He came closer than anyone to guiding the Cincinnati Bengals to a playoff win in 2016 (the infamous Vontaze Burfict meltdown game).
McCarron has likewise been a reliable backup and knows a thing or two about winning when necessary. He earned two national titles at the University of Alabama.
Josh McCown, Philadelphia – Could a New York reunion be in the works? McCown retired as a Jet after last season but returned to back up Carson Wentz for the Eagles. An emergency insertion during the weekend’s wild-card action additionally showed he might have a little bit left in the tank (18-of-24, 174 yards, five carries, 23 yards).
McCown might want to finally remove himself from football, but he made a bit of a home in New York, so a reunion might not be totally out of the question.
The Jets will more than likely seek help and depth for Darnold in the veteran free agency pool. Their own free agents could also provide the solution. Siemian may receive another chance with less than a half of Jets football under his belt. The same goes for Fales, whose experience under a Gase system could buy him another year.
Either way, expect the Jets to collect some assistance, or at least restock, under center so their in-season fate doesn’t fully rely on Darnold’s health.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490.