As many Jets fans know, they will most likely be headed towards a winless season. Obviously, at 0-16, the Jets would draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He is a generational talent and the Jets, nor would any other team, pass on him with the first pick. Not only would he provide a spark for the franchise along with new coaching, but he would also be feared by opponents, something that Sam Darnold isn’t.
This leaves the Jets and their front office with one major question. What do you do with quarterback Sam Darnold, who hasn’t been what the team had hoped for when drafted. Therefore, Joe Douglas and the Jets may decide to trade him. I will discuss the top five teams that I think Darnold would flourish on and have the best chance to succeed.
5) Atlanta Falcons
One of the main destinations Sam Darnold could land is the Atlanta Falcons. With Matt Ryan aging, Darnold could possibly ride the bench for a few games or a season as Ryan can mentor him into a better quarterback. Additionally, the Falcons offense is loaded with weapons he can succeed with like Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Hayden Hurst.
Something Darnold didn’t have in New York was good coaching. It is more than likely interim head coach Raheem Morris will remain as head coach. He has done much better than Dan Quinn. Certainly an upgrade from Adam Gase.
4) New Orleans Saints
Learning from a legend in Drew Brees would be a great thing. The Saints would be a great fit for Darnold for several reasons. Under mastermind coach Sean Payton, he would be able to exhibit his natural talents, which are special. Additionally, with a top-three offensive line, he would have lots of time to throw the football.
The Saints have many talented skill position players too. Not only would he have an arguably top three running back in Alvin Kamara, but Latavius Murray is also a fantastic backup. In addition, he would be given the pleasure to throw the ball to an incredibly talented receiver in Michael Thomas, and experienced veterans in Emmanuel Sanders and Jared Cook.
The best thing about playing under Sean Payton is that he is considered a “quarterback guru”, meaning he can develop any quarterback on any given day. In the past two years, the Saints have gone 8-0 without Drew Brees. Teddy Bridgewater and Taysom Hill have been solid under Payton. This would be critical in helping Sam Darnold learn from his mistakes.
3) Pittsburgh Steelers
With Ben Roethlisberger in the twilight days of his NFL career, the Steelers must begin looking for a future quarterback. Darnold should be near the top of their list. Even though he may be a backup for a season, it would be great for him to learn from Roethlisberger.
Along with the Saints, he would surround himself with great receivers and a solid offensive line. Throwing to Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and Eric Ebron would help Darnold grow. If the Steelers re-sign wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, he and Darnold would become reunited from their college days at USC.
2) Indianapolis Colts
Another possible landing spot for Sam Darnold this offseason is the Colts. Philip Rivers isn’t what he used to be and is aging, and Jacob Eason and Jacoby Brissett are doubtful to be the long term answer for them. While he may be asked to sit the bench for a year, he has several aspects of his game he must clean up, and learn from established veterans is an awesome way of doing so.
During the 2019 season, Darnold may have been under pressure the most out of any quarterbacks. With the Colts having possibly the league’s best offensive line, he will have plenty of time to throw and find open targets. Quenton Nelson is a monster upfront and having him protect Darnold would be a key recipe for success.
Lastly, head coach Frank Reich was the offensive coordinator with the Eagles in 2017. He was part of leading the team to a Super Bowl behind Carson Wentz‘s incredible season and Nick Foles‘ heroic playoff run. Unlike Gase, he and Darnold would mesh very well with each other.
1) The San Francisco 49ers
The best destination for Darnold to succeed in my opinion is San Francisco with the 49ers. Jets owner called head coach Adam Gase an “offensive guru” with a brilliant offensive mind. It is more than safe to say that was false information. However, Niners coach Kyle Shanahan is an offensive mastermind in many ways. He is part of the reason George Kittle is what he is today.
Being a 49er would mean he would get to play in California, where he went to college, and it should feel special for him. Niner fans would love a young QB, as they have plenty of offensive firepower and just need more than a game manager at quarterback. Current 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is not great and isn’t the future of the team.