If the Jets are going to send Sam Darnold elsewhere, the Washington Football Team seem like a beneficial suitor.
There’s a chance he stays in Florham Park for year four. There’s a chance he’s traded, whether it’s for a second-round pick or potentially a late first should the Jets keep him up until the NFL Draft.
At the moment, it’s very much unclear what Sam Darnold‘s future looks like. He’s under contract for at least one more year, but with the No. 2 overall pick and a connection to a potential Deshaun Watson trade, the Jets possess the opportunity to start fresh after a two-win season and send Darnold to another organization for draft capital.
There are a number of possible suitors, such as the Chicago Bears and maybe the Denver Broncos. But now, what seems to be the top potential landing spot is the nation’s capital.
On Monday, it was reported the Washington Football Team would be cutting quarterback Alex Smith, a wise move from a number of standpoints — the veteran is only getting older and possesses cap hits of $23.3 million and $25.3 million over the next two seasons.
The Washington Football Team is expected to part ways with QB Alex Smith in the coming days, sources tell me and @KimJonesSports. The AP Comeback Player of the Year has said he still wants to play, and at age 36 may have a chance to do so.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 1, 2021
With Smith leaving and Dwayne Haskins now in Pittsburgh after a tumultuous and short-lived tenure with Washington, the Football Team aren’t likely to be comfortable heading into the 2021 season with Taylor Heinicke and possibly Kyle Allen battling it out for the starting job. Washington has the opportunity to trade for a young quarterback like Darnold who could succeed if he’s present in a good enough on-field system, and right now, that’s what the Football Team might be trending toward.
Sure, 7-9 is 7-9, and that’s how they finished this past regular season. But they peaked at the right moment and Ron Rivera’s team looked like it truly came together en route to winning five of its last seven regular-season games before losing by just eight points to the eventual Super Bowl-winning Buccaneers in the Wild Card Round.
In Florham Park, Darnold was hindered by a number of factors outside of his control, one of which was the lack of a true No. 1 wideout. Jamison Crowder and Breshad Perriman are nice players, but not top targets in this league. Denzel Mims isn’t either, at least not right now.
Sending Darnold to D.C. would pair him with Terry McLaurin — one of the best young wide receivers in the game today. The 25-year-old led Washington in both receptions and yards in each of his first two years in the NFL with a number of different starting quarterbacks. Darnold could also have a productive tight end in Logan Thomas (72 catches for 670 yards last season) and a decent running back duo in Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissic, the latter of whom can additionally produce in the receiving game (80 catches in 2020).
The Jets defense also didn’t take much pressure off Darnold, having allowed 387.6 total yards and 28.6 points per game last year. Washington’s defense is a much superior unit and finished last season with 304.6 average yards allowed (second in the NFL) and 20.6 average points allowed (fourth).
And most importantly, Darnold would experience an upgrade at the head coaching spot from Adam Gase to Ron Rivera (of course, he’s yet to play with newly hired Jets coach Robert Saleh). Gase was a guy who was literally sitting on the bench during a blowout loss to Miami early in the 2020 season. He was a guy who didn’t overrule Gregg Williams’ questionable cover-zero blitz call on the final play of the Raiders loss in December. He was a guy fans seemingly wanted out since 2019.
Rivera, after parting ways with Carolina, came to Washington and needed to deal with a massive sexual harassment scandal within the organization, and while battling cancer, led the team to its first playoff appearance since the 2015 season, and did so without a concrete starting quarterback.
Rivera deserves all the respect in the world and could certainly do wonders for this team if he were to work with a talented quarterback — what Darnold could flourish into if he’s provided the necessary assistance.
Think of it this way: you may need to go up against Pro Bowler Dak Prescott for years along with possible rising stars in Daniel Jones and Jalen Hurts (future success is unclear between both of them). You need a reliable quarterback, and Darnold could indeed be the prized possession that gets you over that next hump.
A second-round draft pick might be enough in a trade, but if Washington is desperate and misses out on a number of quarterbacks in the draft, the Football Team could give up their No. 19 overall pick in the opening round. In that hypothetical deal, Washington could also snag a third-round pick from the Jets (No. 66 overall) given the value of the first-round selection it’d be losing.
But regardless of how it may all come to fruition, Darnold and the nation’s capital would likely be a beneficial mix.