The Sam Darnold trade rumors have started to heat up once again, as we approach NFL Free Agency. It has been the storyline to follow for the New York Jets this offseason, but there has been little to zero movement. A few weeks back, general manager Joe Douglas emphasized that they will be waiting for the rookie quarterback pro days before making a decision regarding the position. Since then, it looks like we could see something happen sooner than that. Douglas made it clear that they will be answering calls regarding Darnold.
On Monday, Albert Breer from Sports Illustrated reported that eight teams have made calls to Douglas, with the Washington Football Team, San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears seeming to be the most likely Sam Darnold trade destinations.
With that in mind, let’s break down the most likely Sam Darnold trade destinations.
Most Likely Sam Darnold Trade Destinations
Washington Football Team
After making a surprise playoff run in 2020 in a weak NFC East, Washington looks to have some promising young players. However, they also have a big question mark at quarterback. They did extend postseason hero Taylor Heinicke for two years while releasing the reigning Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith. With Dwayne Haskins long gone, Heinicke is set to be their starter heading into 2021. It seems unlikely that Washington will head into the season with just Heinicke, as they will be looking for more of a long-term solution.
Darnold to Washington makes sense. He will have the privilege to have two young weapons in Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin by his side, along with a stingy defense. Not to mention a competent head coach in Ron Rivera, something he has never had in his first three years in the NFL. Washington should heavily pursue Darnold, making them the favorite to land him as of right now.
San Francisco 49ers
It is much more unclear what the 49ers will do. They are in a different position than the Bears and Washington, as they are clearly a win-now type of team. Jimmy Garoppolo’s job is far from safe though, as his name has been swirling around in trade talks, especially with the thought of a reunion with the New England Patriots. In the scenario that they do move on from Garoppolo, that makes them desperate for a quarterback, which is the reason why Darnold could be in their plans.
He would be a cheaper option and is younger than Garoppolo. It would give Darnold the opportunity to go back to his home state of California on top of playing with an impressive roster. Not to mention he would be a key piece to Kyle Shanahan’s West Coast offense, a similar scheme he played in college during his USC days. This would be the most ideal landing spot for Darnold, but Garoppolo’s status being unknown will make it difficult for them to strike a deal.
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The Bears will be in the thick of things in the QB market, with Mitch Trubisky set to hit free agency. Just a day before the Indianapolis Colts traded for Carson Wentz, the Bears were viewed as the frontrunners to land him. That obviously fell through, and it’s not a surprise for them to turn their attention to Darnold. The price tag for Darnold could be similar to Wentz. With the Bears franchise tagging Allen Robinson and having a stout defense, the team has to make a big move to get themselves a new signal-caller.
The Russell Wilson rumors have been flying around, with him landing in Chicago, but that is very unlikely to happen anytime soon. They will need to act fast and cannot afford to wait around, because they do not have a backup solution like Washington and the 49ers do. Expect the Bears to be aggressive, as the interest is there. It is just up to general manager Ryan Pace to come up with a package that the Jets cannot refuse.
There is no denying that Sam Darnold might be finishing up his final month in New York. There have been too many rumors for him to just stay put. One of these three teams will pull the trigger, as the market seems to be more competitive as the days progress.