Does the Carson Wentz trade affect Sam Darnold and the Jets?

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Tyler Greenawalt
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The Jets haven’t made a decision on Sam Darnold, yet, but the Carson Wentz trade that sent the former Eagles quarterback to the Colts could affect Darnold’s trade value if New York moves on from the former first-round pick.

There have been reports the Jets could receive as much as a late-first or a second-round pick for the 23-year-old quarterback, but that price may be even lower after the Eagles received just a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick for Wentz on Thursday. Wentz is, statistically-speaking, a more successful quarterback over the course of his career than Darnold. His completion percentage is better, he’s thrown for more yards and touchdowns and won more games than Darnold – in two more years, though. The Eagles initially wanted what the Lions received for Matthew Stafford – two first-round picks – but that deal also hinged on the Lions taking on Jared Goff’s massive contract.

The same idea applies to the Wentz trade, and it’s why Darnold’s value still might be the same or even higher after this most recent quarterback swap.

Wentz’s talent didn’t drive his value down. Rather, it was everything else – such as his exorbitant contract, injury history and poor 2020 performance. Wentz’s contract is worth $25.4 million this year and sits around that number for the remaining four years. His 2017, 2018 and 2019 seasons all ended with injuries – first an ACL tear in Week 13 of 2017, then a back injury in Week 11 of 2018 and then a concussion knocked him out of the 2019 wild card game. Wentz regressed so badly in 2020 that the Eagles benched him midway through the season for second-round rookie Jalen Hurts.

Though Darnold has missed 10 games over three seasons, he hasn’t had any season-ending or debilitating injuries. Darnold injured his foot in 2018, contracted mononucleosis in 2019 and hurt his shoulder in 2020. He’s also almost five years younger than Wentz and only has one year left on his rookie contract worth $9.8 million. If a team trades for Darnold before May 3, it could pick up his fully-guaranteed fifth-year option, around $25 million, for the 2022 season.

Like Wentz, Darnold comes with a few flaws. He has questionable decision-making skills – he’s thrown the seventh-most interceptions of all quarterbacks since 2018 – and he hasn’t developed much since his rookie year after playing for two different head coaches and multiple offensive play-callers.

Teams will take all of this into account when they call the Jets about Darnold. A few teams have already asked about his availability. The Jets remain – publicly, at least – unsure about Darnold’s future with the team. Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh have yet to commit to him in 2021 but continue to praise his ability. This isn’t surprising. If the right package comes along, Douglas will jump on it and draft a quarterback at No. 2 overall or trade for someone like Deshaun Watson. But if he doesn’t get the deal he wants, Darnold could stick around for next season.

Whatever happens with Darnold isn’t necessarily tied to what happened to Wentz. The Jets could very well still get a late first-round pick if a team thinks its just one quarterback away from competing.

But until that happens, Darnold will remain a Jet.

List

9 potential trade destinations for Jets QB Sam Darnold