Every Jets fan has run through this scenario at least once over the last few weeks.
Finish the season 0-16, secure the No. 1 overall pick in next April's draft and add a generational talent in Clemson's quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the top pick. Then, continue stockpiling young assets in the draft, develop them and before you know it, boom, this franchise is right back in contention.
Wait just a second. There's one key piece to this plan that we're omitting... What happens to Sam Darnold?
Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer took a stab at predicting some of the most realistic destinations for New York's third-year quarterback in the event that his team elects to move him and proceed with Lawrence.
Here's Breer's take from this week's mailbag:
I could see Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Chicago, Denver and San Francisco among the suitors, and I’m assembling that list without including New England, because I think with that level of interest, there’d be no need for the Jets to even think about trading him to a division rival.
I still like Darnold a lot. I think the league does, too. And I think the Jets do, as well, just not enough to pass on Trevor Lawrence if he’s sitting there for them.
Remember, Darnold is a former third-overall pick and will still be 23 years old when the draft takes place next spring. For a team in search of a young quarterback, that won't have a high enough pick to go after Lawrence or another top prospect at the position, Darnold is still a valuable piece.
If he can get healthy for the rest of this season and prove his worth, as he's already missed three games with a shoulder injury and is averaging just 174.2 passing yards per game, another team could seriously benefit from adding the USC product.
The next question is, how much would it cost them to take Darnold off the Jets hands? Breer has you covered:
I’ve kind of gone on the assumption that it’s going to be right at or a little richer than the two and a five Miami brought home for Josh Rosen. Yes, Darnold’s more accomplished and has a better reputation than Rosen. But there was still plenty of hope for Rosen in the spring of 2019, and at the time Rosen had four years left on his rookie contract, whereas Darnold will have the final year and a decision on the fifth-year option left—a fifth-year option that will be worth around $25 million and, per the new CBA, fully guaranteed.
But the more I’ve thought about this, the more I think that the price could wind up rising in time, because I think there’d be a lot of interest in Darnold.
So, there you have it. For that kind of price, you have to imagine at least a few teams would be interested, right? Here's where this could really get interesting.
If the New England Patriots (3-5 this season) can't nab a quarterback in the first round this spring, could Foxborough be a possible landing spot for Darnold?
Breer hinted at this in the first excerpt included above. Even if a Jets-Patriots deal might work on paper, trades don't often happen between division rivals, especially between these two teams. With other organizations surely reaching out as well, why would the Jets make a deal with the team they've got to play two times a year?
Plus, New England might have a chance to bring back familiar face instead.
Sam Darnold would be great [for New England], but I have a really hard time seeing the Jets trading him to the Patriots, particularly because—should they land the first pick—I think they’ll really have a market for him and won’t have to do that. Jimmy Garoppolo could be another option, one that I think would make a lot of sense, but that’s all contingent on San Francisco’s seeing a better option out there.
To read the rest of Breer's mailbag, which addresses everything from Bill Belichick's future to what's next for the Chicago Bears, click here.