jets sam darnold
(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

It might be some time before Jets fans find out the eventual fate of young quarterback and 2018 first-rounder Sam Darnold.

Nearly three years after the Jets drafted Sam Darnold No. 3 overall, the Southern California product could be on his way out of Florham Park.

Or maybe he stays for year four?

At the moment, fans aren’t really sure of Darnold’s future, and according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the answer might not arrive for quite some time.

“We’ve already seen three starting quarterbacks [Matthew Stafford, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz] get traded this year, which never happens by this time, causing people to wonder if Sam Darnold is next. It doesn’t sound like he is,” Rapoport said Monday. “The New York Jets want to make sure they fully evaluate all of their quarterback options before making a decision whether or not to trade Sam Darnold…that includes, I’m told, going to and studying the pro days of all the top draftable quarterbacks. That extends through late March, which is when [Ohio State’s] Justin Fields’ pro day is. Do not expect the Jets to make any decision on Darnold until they get through all of that.”

Rapoport additionally states how the Jets could keep Darnold up until the draft and potentially force a team that missed out on a quarterback to provide New York with a wealthy trade offer for the soon-to-be fourth-year player.

At the moment, Darnold’s trade value is potentially a second or third-rounder, or possibly both. But there are a number of teams with late first-round picks (due to 2020 postseason berths) that may need new quarterbacks — Washington, Chicago, and maybe Pittsburgh, to name a few. The Jets might not be able to receive a late first for Darnold right now. However, when crunch time arrives on the night of April 29 (the draft’s opening round), a team with that type of selection who still wants a quarterback may throw a desperate offer at the Jets for Darnold.

In that scenario, the Jets would be acquiring a third 2021 first-rounder; they already own the No. 2 and 23 overall selections, the latter of which is via the 2020 Jamal Adams trade.

But after each of the evaluations, there’s still a chance the Jets roll the dice with Darnold. He could certainly produce under the new offensive system led by coordinator Mike LaFleur, who was previously the passing-game coordinator out in San Francisco. Last year, LaFleur helped put together the 12th-best passing offense in the NFL without the most consistent of quarterbacks on the field.

If the organization isn’t keen on undergoing a full restart, keeping Darnold could be the way to go for 2021.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.