With Carson Wentz headed to Indianapolis, will Sam Darnold be the next quarterback sent to the Midwest this offseason?
ESPN's NFL insider Field Yates predicted this week that Darnold will be traded from New York to Chicago, giving the Bears a new franchise quarterback for the future while the Jets start anew at the position.
Here's more from Yates on why Darnold would be a good fit for the Bears:
The Bears need to win right away or organizational changes seem imminent, and while Darnold has much to prove, he has supporters within the NFL that could create a trade market.
Why would Chicago be willing to commit to Darnold in a trade and (likely) a fifth-year option when the Jets wouldn't? Simple. Bears GM Ryan Pace has to be much more focused on 2021 than life beyond it. Darnold represents a likely upgrade over what the Bears have in place, and there's certainly a chance he could rise under different circumstances than what he had in New York. But honestly, it's hard to peg the Bears' next starter.
The 23-year-old certainly appears to have untapped potential, despite struggling mightily through his first three NFL seasons. The question is, can Darnold unlock that next level of production in Chicago?
For reference, the Bears pick 20th overall in the first round this spring and then have the 52nd and 84th overall selections in the second and third round respectively. It's hard to imagine Chicago parting with their first-rounder for Darnold, but as more teams reach out to New York, who knows what the asking price is for the quarterback. A package around a second-round pick, similar to what it took for the Colts to get Carson Wentz, is probably more realistic.
As for what Darnold's departure would mean for the Jets, Yates sees New York taking BYU quarterback Zach Wilson with the No. 2 pick. Here's Yates on the move:
The Jets could build around Sam Darnold using the trove of draft picks they have both this year and next, but committing to him on the fifth-year option this offseason (which fully guarantees somewhere around $25M in 2022) is a heavier-handed investment than the team likely wants to make after an uneven start to his career.
The Jets must also evaluate the opportunity cost. The team is hopeful and believes a turnaround is coming soon, meaning a pick this high in the draft won't be a certainty going forward. If they pass on a young quarterback now, and Darnold is not the long-term answer, the Jets' avenue to quarterback stability is harder to find. And Wilson could be special.
If you're curious, Yates has the quarterback carrousel continuing across the league. The insider envisions Marcus Mariota starting 2021 with the New England Patriots, Ryan Fitzpatrick under center for the Washington Football Team, Justin Fields starting out the Houston Texans and ... Deshaun Watson in a Carolina Panthers uniform.
- What the Carson Wentz Trade Means For the Jets, Sam Darnold
- Sam Darnold Trade Proposal: Does Washington Offer Enough to New York?
- 'Check Back With Us Soon': Jets Still Debating Sam Darnold's Future As Trade Interest Builds