FLORHAM PARK, NJ – New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas explained the biggest trade in his two-year tenure and said the decision to deal with quarterback Sam Darnold was mainly based on two factors – draft position and finances.
“I think it’s safe to say if our election was a little later, we would not have this discussion right now,” Douglas told reporters Tuesday on a Zoom call. “We would love to get on with Sam.”
The Jets, who finished second in the NFL Draft on April 29, traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for three draft picks – a 6th-round pick in 2021 plus 2022 second- and fourth-rounders.
As No. 2, the Jets are expected to pick BYU quarterback Zach Wilson.
Douglas downplayed the possibility of trading the election. He acknowledged the obvious and said that they are locked inside a quarterback. But he would not say who insisted that the final decision not yet be made.
“We’re doing really well with the draft class as a whole and the quarterback class specifically,” Douglas said. “This was an opportunity to economically press the reset button, so to speak.”
That was a big factor, sources said.
The second choice in the draft lands a four-year contract worth $ 35 million, fully guaranteed – a fixed price that allows for financial flexibility in the coming years. Meanwhile, Darnold was scheduled to count $ 9.8 million in the final year of his rookie contract. The Jets could have exercised its fifth-year option in 2022, but the cost would have been $ 18.9 million.
That would have been $ 28.7 million in two years compared to $ 35 million in four. There’s also a $ 5 million hit to trade with Darnold.
Although Douglas was free at Darnold, the organization believes it will find an upgrade with the second choice. Darnold, who was drafted as number three in 2018, did not live up to expectations and was the league’s lowest rated player through the last three seasons.
Douglas admitted the Jets were not doing enough to help Darnold and said they need to do a better job of surrounding the next quarterback with talent.
The team toyed with the idea of holding Darnold and pairing him with a rookie, Douglas confirmed. In the end, the Jets decided it would have been a distraction for all parties.
“In the end, it would not be the best situation for Sam, for the rookie quarterback, for the coach [Robert] Saleh and his staff and the locker room, “Douglas said. We felt this was the best decision for the entire organization to move on and press the reset button. “
Douglas said he has conducted “talks with many teams,” including the Panthers, regarding the second election, but that he would not characterize any of these discussions as meaningful.
The plan is to stay at No. 2 and pick a quarterback. Exclusively a disturbance, it will be Wilson. If they had opted for the 12 to 14 series, they would have rolled with Darnold, GM said.
“Based on the decision we made [Monday]”Douglas said, ‘you can see a little bit the direction we’re heading. “