In a different situation, Sam Darnold would still be the quarterback of the New York Jets.
Addressing the media for the first time since trading Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, Jets general manager Joe Douglas spoke about the decision-making process in parting ways with their 23-year-old signal-caller.
As much as Douglas respects the former first-rounder, and believes his best football is ahead, the GM believes trading Darnold was the best possible course of action for all parties involved.
If New York wasn't picking second in the NFL draft later this month, however, this would be a completely different discussion.
"I think it's safe to say that if our pick was a little later, we wouldn't be having this discussion right now. We'd fully be comfortable moving forward with Sam," Douglas told reporters on Tuesday.
Douglas revealed that New York went through every possible scenario, figuring out whether or not they wanted to move on from Darnold.
That includes keeping Darnold and drafting a quarterback at No. 2, keeping Darnold and drafting a non-quarterback second overall and even trading their first-round pick while moving forward with Darnold.
After months of evaluations, Douglas explained that he and the organization's scouts and coaching staff have fallen in love with this year's draft class (specifically the quarterbacks available at the top of the first round). They were comfortable shipping Darnold to another team in order to open up a starting spot at the quarterback position.
Asked if the plan is to draft a quarterback second overall later this month, Douglas smiled.
"I think that's a fair assessment," he said. "Based on the decision we made, you can see the direction we're heading."
New York has been active in free agency this offseason while continuing to add to the franchise's surplus of draft capital. With three more picks added from the Darnold trade, New York now has 21 selections over the next two drafts, including seven picks in the first two rounds.
That puts this franchise in the position to avoid making the same mistake they did with Darnold under center.
"There's a lot of people fired up in this building about not only the talent that we brought into the locker room, but the caliber of character that we signed and brought into this locker room," Douglas said. "We talk about those acquisitions, and these assets that we have through the draft. It's incumbent on us to get these decisions right. Whether it's turn the card in or trading for a proven commodity, we have to surround our next quarterback with as much talent as possible."
- Did the Panthers Give Up Too Much For Sam Darnold?
- Report: Jets, Panthers Negotiated Sam Darnold Trade Over Several Months
- Jets Poised to Make NFL Draft History After Trading Sam Darnold
- What the Jets Trading Sam Darnold Means for Zach Wilson