Report: If Jets make Sam Darnold available, Washington will call

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JP Finlay
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Report: If Jets make Sam Darnold available, Washington will call originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Football Team inquired into trades for both Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff, and while neither player landed in Burgundy and Gold, head coach Ron Rivera made clear that his team will look far and wide to fix its quarterback situation. 

Soon, that might include pursuing Jets QB Sam Darnold.

From an NFL Network report:

When Alex Smith decided he needed a few weeks to figure out his future, the Washington Football Team knew it could not wait. While the team is open to a return for Smith, it also made calls on Stafford and Goff before they were traded. Expect them to weigh all QB options, including if Sam Darnold is made available. While plenty of teams have been calling the Jets on Darnold, there's been no indication they would trade him. Yet.

The Jets hold the No. 2 pick in the upcoming NFL Draft and there's plenty of speculation that new coach Robert Saleh will look to bring in a new quarterback with that pick. The Jets could also use draft picks from a Darnold trade to work on a blockbuster move for Texans QB Deshaun Watson. 

Darnold, the No. 3 overall pick in 2018, has never delivered on his immense potential in New York. In 38 starts over three seasons he's completed fewer than 60 percent of his passes with 45 touchdowns against 39 interceptions. The Jets have been a bad team throughout Darnold's tenure, but still, his record as starter is an abysmal 13-25.

To some around the league, however, getting Darnold off the Jets and into a new system could be a jolt of redemption. He was a polished passer in college at Southern Cal.

There's also the Ryan Tannehill theory. 

Huh?

Tannehill struggled as the Dolphins quarterback playing under head coach Adam Gase. Labeled a quarterback expert after working with Peyton Manning in Denver and winning a Super Bowl as an assistant coach with the Broncos, Gase and Tannehill could not find success in Miami. 

In 2019, the Dolphins traded to Tannehill to the Titans, and he found immediate and significant success. 

Since the trade to Tennessee, and getting away from Gase, Tannehill has completed 67% of his passes with 55 touchdowns against just 13 interceptions. Perhaps more importantly, the Titans are 18-8 in 26 Tannehill starts and made the playoffs the last two seasons. 

But what does Tannehill have to do with Darnold? Adam Gase coached the Jets for the past two seasons. 

So the Tannehill Theory implies that if you get Darnold away from Gase then the young QB will find success. 

Terrific in theory, unfortunately that seems too simple, and ignores one glaring difference between the two passers. 

Even in Miami with a stunted offense, Tannehill completed nearly 63% of his passes. In fact, in his last two seasons in Miami before the trade Tannehill completed more than 65% of his passes. 

Darnold's completion percentage has been below 60% in two of three seasons, and even his most accurate season in 2019 found him completing only 62% of his passes. He just isn't all that accurate. 

More than 25 NFL QBs completed 65% or more of their passes in 2020. The top three all completed more than 70% of their passes. 

Accuracy is the hardest thing to fix in the NFL, and while it can be done - Josh Allen in Buffalo is the best recent example - it's very hard to do. 

Maybe getting Darnold away from Gase will work wonders. It's absolutely possible. But he will need significant improvement too. 

Washington might be intrigued by the arm talent and prototype size - 6-foot-3, 230 pounds. - and it's important to note a trade for Darnold won't cost nearly what the terms were for Stafford. 

He's an intriguing young option that might not cost much and could have a lot of upside. Perhaps a second rounder?

Darnold is also still playing on a rookie contract in 2021 with a fifth-year option available too. As far as quarterbacks go, that's quite affordable. 

As the never ending search for QBX continues in Washington, keep Darnold's name on the radar.