NFL Rumors: New York Jets Could Find Sam Darnold’s Replacement In 2021 Draft, Even After Losing Top Pick

Sam Darnold walks off the field after an NFL game.
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The New York Jets may have lost out on the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft with a winning flourish to end the year, but one report suggests that they could still find a replacement for Sam Darnold among this year’s prospects.

The Jets won two straight games after starting the season 0-13, losing the No. 1 overall pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars, and with it the chance to select Trevor Lawrence. The team’s future remains uncertain, with no clarity on whether they will stick with Darnold or try to find another signal-caller among what is believed to be a very talented class coming out this year.

As the Fansided blog The Jets Press noted, there is some belief that the Jets will try to snag BYU quarterback Zach Wilson, though the report pointed out that Ohio State star Justin Fields could be in consideration as well.

“If the plan is to select a quarterback, two players have emerged from the pack as the likely favorites. Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson are at the forefront of the QB2 debate,” the report said, adding that they pegged the Jets to ultimately go with Wilson in a seven-round mock draft.

There are others who believe that Darnold could hold down the starting job. Though he has struggled through injuries and inconsistency, some insiders believe that the team will stick with him for at least another season.

As the New York Post’s Brian Costello observed, Darnold played a solid game in leading his team to a 23-16 victory over the Cleveland Browns last week. He said the performance could show his potential as a safe and efficient quarterback.

“Darnold played a clean, if not spectacular, game in the 23-16 win over the Browns on Sunday at MetLife Stadium,” the outlet wrote. “Darnold did not turn the ball over for the third consecutive game. That is the longest stretch in Darnold’s career without a turnover.”

Sam Darnold runs in an NFL game.
  Justin Casterline / Getty Images

It was also unclear whether the situation could change depending on what the Jets do with head coach Adam Gase in the coming week. As NJ.com reported, the Jets are expected to fire him at the conclusion of the season and could be looking at a wide-open search for a replacement, with Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer tossed around as potential replacements. If the front office were to go ahead with a coaching change, it could be up to the new regime to decide what happens with Darnold.