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It’s possible Sam Darnold is on his way out of Florham Park. ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes the Jets could receive a first-rounder for him.

Ryan Honey

After three seasons, Sam Darnold‘s time with the Jets might be coming to a conclusion. With the No. 2 overall pick in possession, the potential opportunity to trade for Texans superstar Deshaun Watson, along with the general idea of a fresh start, Gang Green could part ways with Darnold after drafting him in 2018.

But what would the Jets possibly receive if a trade were to occur?

ESPN’s Adam Schefter may have an idea.

“I know people will say ‘no way,’ they’ll say he’s not worth a first-round pick. I headed into the offseason thinking that they would get a second-round pick and maybe something else for him, I thought that would be his value if they decided to trade him,” Schefter said while appearing on MyBookie’s “Haberman & Middlekauff” podcast. “I think with all the movement going on, I think with what Matthew Stafford went for [two first-rounders, a third-rounder, and then-Rams quarterback Jared Goff], I think that his value in the end, if they trade him, will be some sort of late first-rounder.”

If a trade involving Darnold and a late first-round pick eventually comes to fruition, there could be multiple suitors. Ironically, a number of teams that made the postseason (and thus possess a draft pick in the back half of the first round) may need a new quarterback for the future.

Organizations that come to mind are Washington, the Bears, the Colts, the Buccaneers if Tom Brady isn’t around for too much longer, and potentially the Steelers and Saints.

Washington’s current quarterback situation is a tough one: Dwayne Haskins is now in Pittsburgh; Alex Smith is increasing in age; Kyle Allen isn’t a proven starting quarterback and neither is Taylor Heinicke (relax, it was just one game).

The problem is that Washington carries the highest first-round selection of each of the aforementioned playoff teams at No. 19 overall. This means the Jets would likely need to give up a third-round selection along with Darnold in order to snag what would be another first-round pick (they already possess the No. 2 and 23 picks, the latter of which was from the 2020 trade of Jamal Adams).

The same type of trade would probably need to occur if the Jets were dealing with the Bears, who own the 20th overall selection and don’t employ the most reliable of quarterbacks in Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky.

A trade involving Indianapolis, however, may be a tad bit different. Amid the retirement of Philip Rivers and the uncertainty surrounding the ability of Jacoby Brissett and/or Jacob Eason to eventually be true franchise starting quarterbacks, the Jets could use that situation as leverage to wager a fourth-round pick instead of a third.

The Colts possess the No. 21 overall selection after losing to Buffalo in the Wild Card Round.

Introducing Pittsburgh and New Orleans into the conversation is where it becomes tricky. In regard to the former, Ben Roethlisberger may stick around for his 18th season, and you could say Darnold should go there and develop behind Big Ben until he gets the nod to start. However, Dwayne Haskins might already fill that role, and for what it’s worth, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was high on Haskins when he was coming out of Ohio State in 2019.

With that said, there’s a chance Tomlin could be in the early stages of truly investing in the soon-to-be third-year quarterback.

Meanwhile, it’s still unclear what Saints legend Drew Brees will do next season; he hasn’t announced an official decision on his future despite reports suggesting he will retire. But even if he does call it quits, the Saints may be making an investment in Taysom Hill and/or Jameis Winston, the latter of whom is a more established starting quarterback despite being more mistake-prone (he threw a league-leading 30 interceptions with the Buccaneers in 2019).

Finally, there’s the chance of Darnold going to Tampa to learn behind a former division rival in Tom Brady. Regardless of the fact that Brady has led the Bucs to the Super Bowl at 43 years old, it’s unknown how much time he truly has left. He seemingly wants to keep playing and there’s no sort of indication that he won’t in 2021, but that doesn’t mean he’s incapable of hitting a wall and rapidly declining. Just look at what occurred with Peyton Manning in 2015.

The Jets could probably swing a fourth or maybe even a fifth along with Darnold for what would either be the No. 31 or 32 overall pick, depending on how Tampa does against Kansas City this Sunday. Darnold could then learn under Brady and an offensive-minded head coach in Bruce Arians, but as was previously noted, it’s undetermined how long that process would last.

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