Low Risk, High Reward or No Reward?

Depending on the price, Jets quarterback Sam Darnold could be worth the Bears' pursuit but his poor past production would not make him a QB they could be depending on to produce a winning 2021 season
Publish date:

The quarterbacks sat there as offseason began like planes on a runway waiting for word from the tower.

First went Matthew Stafford along with Jared Goff, at the same time. Then Carson Wentz headed for Indy. The next one up is Sam Darnold and, unless the Bears are getting him in a fire-sale price, then the destination should be some other city.

However, ESPN's Field Yates has predicted the Bears will make an offer for Darnold and acquire him.

If the Bears could't even make an offer for Wentz after he actually has played at a high level, then why should they wade in waist deep to try and rescue Sam Darnold? At least Wentz had long stretches of highly productive play for winning teams.

There is reason to think they are interested. It's been reported and rumored in the past. 

Darnold has shown very little ability like a first-round pick should have since coming to the New York Jets with the third pick overall in 2018.

Various scouting reports and web analysis has turned up several flaws and one repeated over and over is how his footwork and throwing fundamentals appear off. He's also cited repeatedly for making unwise decisions ending in risky throws into coverage.

Who does this sound like? Hint: He wore a navy and orange jersey with No. 10 on it for the past four seasons.


Pro Football Focus' assessment of Darnold's performance is scathing. Sam Monson of PFF wrote "...since entering the league at the No. 3 pick back in 2018, Darnold ranks second-to-last in passing grade, second-to-last in uncatchable pass rate on passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage, fifth-to-last in turnover-worthy play rate and third-to-last in big-time throw rate."

Benjamin Solak of the Draft Network described him gunshy after being hammered numerous times behind poor pass blocking.

Not that passer rating means everything, but for three seasons Darnold has been about at a level Trubisky was as a rookie. He had ratings of 77.6, 84.3 and 72.7. that's Blake Bortles bad. That's Christian Ponder bad.

The only ray of sunshine for Darnold occurred in 2019 when put together back-to-back games with a combined 126.9 passer rating in easy wins over Washington and the Oakland Raiders. In a seven-game stretch to finish then 2019 season, Darnold's play at least kept critics at bay.

He produced a 92.7 passer rating with 12 touchdown throws to four interceptions. It showed he could avoid the big mistake and move the team.

The big difference then was better offensive line play. The Jets got Darnold sacked 13 times in those seven games, far better than the type of blocking he received through much of the rest of the time he has played in New York.

All of this jibes with statistics suggesting he is a passer who had trouble under pressure and it led to his poor footwork and throwing motion.

Even at his best during that one seven-game stretch in 2019, Darnold completed only 60.76%.

It's often pointed out how Darnold never received proper coaching under Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains. Perhaps it isn't the best coaching, but even the worst coaching should produce better than a career passer rating of 78.6, 45 touchdowns to 39 interceptions and 6.6 yards per pass attempt, if a prospect is a viable the third pick in the draft.

Earlier the thought of Darnold to the Bears didn't seem so absurd but this was before it became clear how ownership expected the team needed to win a playoff game next year or there could be consequences for the coach and/or general manager.

Darnold would be viewed as a huge renovation project with any team and a coaching staff under such a mandate is in no position to do rehab on wayward players.

In an article for Yahoo.com, Ralph Vacchiano speculated the asking price for Darnold by the Jets would be a second-round pick and a mid-to-late rounder.

Considering what the Eagles got for a quarterback once perceived as an MVP candidate for a Super Bowl champion, and how Darnold has produced nothing, anything greater than one third-round pick would be too rich and risky for the Bears.

Twitter: BearDigest@BearsOnMaven