The New York Jets appear to be officially out of the running for Trevor Lawrence, which could leave embattled Sam Darnold as the franchise’s quarterback of the future.
The Jets slipped out of contention for the top spot in the 2021 NFL Draft with a 23-16 win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the second straight win for the team that started out winless in their first 13 games. The victory means that the Jacksonville Jaguars have the top spot locked up, and the Jets lost out on the chance to select the Clemson signal caller, who many consider to be the most complete quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck.
As the New York Post’s Brian Costello noted, Darnold played a solid game as he continued his bid to remain the team’s starter, completing 16 of his 32 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns while adding another 20 yards on the ground.
“Darnold played a clean, if not spectacular, game in the 23-16 win over the Browns on Sunday at MetLife Stadium,” the report noted. “Darnold did not turn the ball over for the third consecutive game. That is the longest stretch in Darnold’s career without a turnover.”
Though Darnold was picked with the No. 3 overall selection in the 2018 draft, he has struggled with injury and inconsistency, being outplayed by a number of signal callers taken later that year, including Josh Allen and Lamar Jackson. It was widely believed that the Jets would move on if they were able to select Lawrence, though he now appears to be headed to Jacksonville, barring some unforeseen circumstance that would cause him to fall in the draft.
There had been speculation dating back to earlier this season that Darnold could be on the trade block, though it did not appear that the Jets would be able to net much of a return. As The Inquisitr reported in October, some league insiders said the franchise would have difficulty getting anywhere close to the high first-round selection they used on him.
“I don’t think they’d get a [first-round pick] for Sam, but it also depends what he puts on tape the rest of the year,” one unnamed general manager told ESPN. “The problem is, [Darnold] is struggling with his accuracy, his durability — so they’re in a tough spot. And if everyone knows the Jets are taking a quarterback, then they won’t get as much back.”
The Jets had already made a number of significant moves this year, cutting Le’Veon Bell and firing defensive coordinator Gregg Williams after a last-second loss to the Las Vegas Raiders.