In a media availability on Wednesday, New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said that nothing has changed about the way the team views quarterback Sam Darnold heading into next month's NFL Draft in which the Jets are set to pick second, but that he would still pick up any calls about the QB's trade availability.
A number of quarterbacks, including prospective No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, BYU's Zach Wilson and Ohio State's Justin Fields, are expected to go off the board early, but Douglas gave no indication that his team might be among those looking for a pivot.
Jets GM Joe Douglas said the team is still investigating their QB options, but "With Sam (Darnold) our stance on Sam hasn’t changed. He’s an extremely talented player. Very smart, very tough. We have no doubt he’s going to achieve his outstanding potential."— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) March 3, 2021
“With Sam, our stance on Sam hasn’t changed,” Douglas said. “He’s an extremely talented player. Very smart, very tough. We have no doubt he’s going to achieve his outstanding potential."
Darnold, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft out of USC, has yet to match the heights reached by other members of that year's QB class, including Baker Mayfield, Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. Over 12 games in 2020, Darnold threw for 2,208 yards on 217-for-364 passing with nine touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
But the team's offensive woes aren't solely on Darnold's shoulders. In Darnold's three pro seasons, the Jets owned the league's fourth-worst offence in 2018, followed by two straight seasons of the league's very worst offence. Head coach Adam Gase was fired at the end of the season and replaced by former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh. Saleh brought Niners passing game coordinator Mike LaFleur, younger brother of Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, with him to the Meadowlands as the Jets' new offensive coordinator.
Still, Douglas said he would be willing to listen on offers for the 23-year-old Capistrano Beach, CA native.
Jets GM Joe Douglas said if teams call about QB Sam Darnold, he will listen:— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) March 3, 2021
“I will answer the call, if it’s made. Sam is, we think, a dynamic playmaker in this league with dynamic talent ... But if calls are made, I will answer them.”
"I will answer the call, if it's made," Douglas conceded. "Sam is, we think, a dynamic playmaker in this league with dynamic talent...But if calls are made, I will answer them."
Douglas doesn't believe this kind of holding pattern in the passing game will affect the team when it comes to attractiveness in free agency.
Asked if he feels the indecision about the 2021 QB will hurt the Jets in free agency, GM Joe Douglas said "I don’t feel like this will hurt us in free agency. I really don’t feel like that’s going to affect our free agent plans or player free agent plans as it pertains to us."— Ralph Vacchiano (@RVacchianoSNY) March 3, 2021
"I don't feel like this will hurt us in free agency," Douglas said. "I really don't feel like that's going to affect our free agent plans as it pertains to us."
The negotiating window for NFL free agency is set to open on Mar.15. The first round of the NFL Draft will be held on Apr. 29.