Charles Krupa/Associated Press
During an appearance on SportsCenter on Saturday, ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler said Darnold is “still a realistic option” for the Jets at quarterback next season.
Fowler added that it isn’t out of the question that the Jets keep Darnold and select a quarterback with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.
New York selected Darnold with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, but his career has largely been a disappointment thus far, especially in comparison to other quarterbacks from that draft class, such as Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills, Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.
In 38 career starts, Darnold is just 13-25, and he is completing just 59.8 percent of his passes for 8,097 yards, 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions while also rushing for 417 yards and five scores.
Injuries have been an issue for Darnold, as he has never played in more than 13 games in a season, but he has been underwhelming even when healthy.
Perhaps some of that can be blamed on a lack of weapons, as Darnold has had some of the worst offensive supporting casts in the NFL since entering the league.
Things are looking up a bit in that regard entering 2021, as the Jets signed former Tennessee Titans wide receiver Corey Davis to go along with Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder, plus they signed former San Francisco 49ers and Atlanta Falcons running back Tevin Coleman.
If the belief within the organization is that Darnold can be a top quarterback with some help, the Jets could keep Darnold and either trade down from No. 2 or use their pick on a top skill-position player like Alabama wide receiver Jaylen Waddle or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.
New York also owns the No. 23 overall pick, which could be used on a running back such as Alabama’s Najee Harris or Clemson’s Travis Etienne.
Regardless of whether the Jets keep or trade Darnold, quarterback is a strong option at No. 2 overall as well. Assuming the Jacksonville Jaguars take Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence first, the Jets would have their pick between BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones.
The opportunity to land a franchise quarterback doesn’t come along very often, so if there is any belief within New York’s front office that one of the aforementioned quarterbacks will be a better pro than Darnold, then taking that quarterback and flipping Darnold for additional picks is the way to go for a team that has not reached the playoffs since 2010.