Someday, and not so long ago, the phone would ring in the office of Jets general manager Joe Douglas, and a CEO from another team could start a conversation that would be something like this:
“Hey Joe, congratulations on the news concert. … Uh, I wonder if Sam Darnold might be available (nervous laughter). “
Fast forward to now:
“Hey Joe, we’re in the market for QB, can we talk about Sam?”
“Of course you can! There are no untouchables in our team, not even after season 2-14. We still love Sam, make no mistake about it, but go ahead, make me your best offer and we̵
Sam Darnold, the potential savior of the Jets three short projects ago, is winding down these days, resigning and waiting for Douglas to make his decision to change the franchise to a quarterback decision.
Douglas on Wednesday: “I’ll answer the call if it’s made.”
This means that Darnold is in a boat different from three of his quarterback classmates in 2018. The Bills will not answer the call if it is made to Josh Allen. Browns will not answer the call if it is made to Baker Mayfield. The Ravens will not answer the call if it is made to Lamar Jackson. Darnold is in the boat with Josh Rosen.
“Our position on Sam has not changed,” Douglas said.
Nice experience, Joe.
Yes it is.
“He is an extremely talented player, he is very smart, very tough. … We have no doubt that Sam will reach his extraordinary potential, “Douglas said on Wednesday.
This is GM talk, of course, designed to increase the value of his asset for future suitors. Because (wink, wink) this exceptional potential can be achieved in a different uniform.
“Obviously we are in the process of getting as much information as we can through the free agency and the project, but our position on Sam has not changed,” Douglas said.
Again, GM-talk is designed to keep the poor kid hoping he can revive his career with the franchise that made it.
The NFL can be such a cruel business. That was just 11 months ago, before the 2020 project, when Douglas said:
“When I first met Sam’s parents in the first pre-season game [August 2019]I promised them that I would do my best to take care of Sam with protection and playmakers. “
Alas, even with Mekhi Becton’s left attack, Sam needed more protection and even with devastated wide receivers Denzel Mims and Breshad Perriman needed more playmakers (and less Adam Gase) and here he is:
You’re wondering if Douglas will use the second overall pick of Zach Wilson of BYU or Justin Fields of Ohio and reset the quarterback’s financial clock and trade with Darnold.
You wonder if Douglas will enter the Deschawn Watson lottery if the Texans win and entertain his trade desires and trade him.
You wonder if Douglas will trade from the second peak and build around it with his two freshmen this year and six of the top 98 peaks … not to mention a pair of freshmen in 2022.
To Darnold, this should seem like a nervous game of music quarterbacks, knowing only that he will not be left without a chair, but perhaps not the chair he prefers.
It seems a lifetime ago that former CEO Mike Macanyan and his staff took Darnold to dinner at Morristown a week before the 2018 draft and left deflation because they were convinced that the browns would use the first full choice for him.
It seems a lifetime ago, when then-coach Todd Bowles called Darnold the start in Detroit and fans of the euphoric jets began their “JETS, Jets, Jets, Jets!” in the NFL and scored 48-17. And then he hugged his proud parents in front of the visiting locker room.
Finally, Joe Namat’s long-lost Broadway response.
The Man Himself.
Mononucleosis would not stop him.
Gaze would be his quarterback boss.
No one imagined seeing ghosts on national television against Bill Belichik.
No one imagined that he would regress in his third season (nine touchdowns, 11 interceptions, head scratch-making) and see the TD-INT ratio in his career fall to 45-39, and his record for profit and loss to fall to 13- 25.
Nothing gives fans more hope than a young quarterback franchise.
Darnold himself was the Golden Boy.
He has no idea if he still is.
Pro Wilson’s Day is March 26. Fields’ professional day is March 30. The jets will be in force both.
Douglas’ phone will ring. The Director-General will answer the call.
If Douglas has the same conviction of Wilson or Fields that Macanyan had of Darnold, he must summon him.
Watson will cost a boat, but it’s worth it, and Douglas has a lot of towing capital and $ 80 million in the room.
March madness for Sam Darnold. And maybe beyond.