Sam Darnold: 3 Potential Landing Spots

By: Jake Rajala (Twitter: @rajala_jake)

Sam Darnold, The once USC royalty at Quarterback touted for possessing enormous up-side at just 21 years old when drafted, as spiraled into a blunder of trepidation at the benefit of an unwanted dysfunctional marriage with Adam Gase. Despite being situated with Frank Gore, Breshad Perriman, an atrocious musical chairs rotation of an o-line, with Gase being the ring leader, Darnold is still the captain of a huddle under an 0-12 NFL squad.

Adam Gase should be a sure-fire “Black Monday” firing when it comes to the season end. After the Head Coach packs his bags, the once-starter at QB Sam Darnold will no longer be in sync or relish value to any visible coaching staff from his tenure. Not only will there be a lost connection between Darnold and a stable structure, but the Jets have a more attractive date to look forward to. That enticing date is April 29th and the Jets get the golden ticket: First overall draft selection.

The bells for Trevor Lawrence at No. one to the NYJ have rung mightily. Lawrence may not be the savior for the Jets in 2021, but he’s a profile of vastly improved value at the QB position. His arm talent overshadows Darnold, along with his frame and presence in the pocket. Lawrence may not go on to win the Heisman in this bizarre 2020 season, but he possesses all the tools to land No. 1 overall. Let’s face it, It’s day and night between Sam Darnold & Trevor Lawrence.

The Jets signal-caller that ousted 132 passing yards against a Seahawks pass defense that ranks 32nd in the league yesterday hasn’t quite failed to put on his braveheart face to save his dissolving position with the Jets. This latest misfortune in Gase’s trainwreck of a team was even captured by the New York Post on this Mon. AM “Sam Darnold isn’t giving Jets much reason to keep him”.

With the stigma surrounding Darnold being exonerated, there’s more than a robust likelihood that Darnold will be shipped out of New York. And Darnold could still be sought as a low-risk, high-reward asset. Darnold’s production has dipped in 2020 & it may pose that his ceiling isn’t as high as originally thought. Nonetheless, The current Jets starting QB that’s “younger tham Joe Burrow” has shown serious flashes in years past. So, which NFL team could acquire the USC giant, Sam Darnold? Let’s untwind a few very ideal landing spots.

3) New Orleans Saints

Drew Brees will very likely retire at the end of the 2020-2021 season. The record-breaking machine, Brees nearly hung up the cleats before this year but decided to give one last crack at another Lombardi trophy for the city of New Orleans. So when the future Hall of Fame QB rides off into the sunset of his historic career, who will take over the helm? That answer is up in the air.

We saw Teddy Bridgewater fill in admirably for Brees when the Saints star QB missed five games in 2019, but Teddy parted ways from the Big Easy in the 2020 off-season. And as recently showcased, the dual-threat QB, swiss army knife Taysom Hill captured the No. Two QB spot.

Has Taysom Hill shown enough to make Payton confident that he can be the heir apparent to Brees headed into the off-season program and carry the team’s Super Bowl chances on his shoulder next season? Well, let’s take a look at the former BYU QB’s key stats on the 2020 season thus far (Pro Football Reference):

  • 98.7 passer rating
  • 72.3% completion percentage
  • 7.7 Y/A
  • 4 passing TDs, 2 INTs, and “10 fumbles on the year”

Those are impressive passing marks, but it’s key to point out that his competition has been subpar, to say the least. Hill has faced off against the ATL defense twice (30th ranked pass defense), DEN without a QB, and a stellar, yet somewhat shaky Eagles defense.

Hill’s arm strength and fit in Sean Payton’s orchestra has been unraveled in multiple passing categories, but It’s very concerning to realize that Taysom Hill has regressed into a butterfingers ball carrier. Hill’s rugged ball security is represented in an abstract, horrid “10 fumbles” on the season. And it’s not only strange in 2020, but that’s closing in on the team’s fumble record set by Aaron Brooks back in 2003 (14 fumbles). The mind-boggling aspect is that Taysom has only started four games in Brees’s absence.

All in all, Taysom Hill has endured his ups & downs throughout his starting duties. Hill is under contract for another year after this final Brees push, so he should be kept in the building.

Jameis Winston came to New Orleans on a one-year deal and that contract will be expired. If Winston didn’t show enough skill to take the job from Taysom, It would make a lot of sense for Payton to improve the situation around Hill. And Payton hasn’t shied from shopping around for new QBs in plans for post Brees (Hence Winston, Bridgewater, Garrett Grayson, “Taysom”).

This is where Sam Darnold comes into play. Darnold has been a mess with a putrid Jets team in 2020, but his potential is very positive & his resume shows glimpses of strong performances (even with a weak supporting cast).

Darnold led a slightly less mess of a Jets roster in 2019 to a winning record (7-6 in his active games). Darnold also carries a lot more arm talent than the Saints Taysom Hill. This was unraveled in a 92-yard bomb last season & multiple insanely accurate passes outside of the pocket with perfect placement to his questionable playmakers.

The Saints would be the best system for Darnold to grow and they shouldn’t have to cough up a lot in compensation for him. Darnold clearly wouldn’t reel in a large contract and the 23-year-old would be the perfect QB to grab for a Saints team that will inevitably miss out on Fields, Lawrence, Lance, and possibly Trask.

Darnold has the remainder of his rookie contract to fulfill, which ends after the 2021 season. If Saints want to grab the adequate veteran QB, on a modest deal, with loads of potential, and they opt to save the first-round pick from a QB, they should make the move for Sam Darnold.

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