February 16, 2021
NFL Rumors: Saints Could Target Sam Darnold As 2021 Starting Quarterback, Report Suggests

Sam Darnold could be headed to the New Orleans Saints to take over for the retiring Drew Brees, a new report suggests.

There have been rumors that the New York Jets could jettison their starting quarterback after three uneven seasons and take a swing instead at one of the signal-callers expected to be available or using the No. 2 overall pick to snag a top college prospect. A report from the Fansided blog The Jet Press suggested that the Saints could be interested in Darnold, tapping him to replace Brees after his expected retirement.

The report noted that Jameis Winston was not able to secure the starting spot in New Orleans after coming in as the league's most high-profile backup, and Taysom Hill was uneven in the games he started in relief of the injured Brees.

"Jameis Winston is a free agent and there's no guarantee that the Saints look to bring him back. And while Taysom Hill is still under contract, it wouldn't be wise to go into the season with him as their starter," the outlet pointed out.

"For that reason, someone like Darnold makes a ton of sense for New Orleans."
There are others who have suggested that Winston could still win the starting job, despite his pending free agent status. Sports analytics writer Seth Walder told ESPN that he would be a stronger candidate than Hill as he was more efficient on the field.

Darnold's future in New York remains uncertain as well. While many insiders have identified him as a potential trade candidate, others have suggested that the Jets will stick with him at least through the completion of his rookie contract. Through most of the year, the club had been in line for the first overall draft selection the chance to snag top prospect Trevor Lawrence, but a late-season winning streak put them out of the top spot and a more uncertain future for Darnold.

Sam Darnold gets sacked during a game against the Cleveland Browns.
Getty Images | Sarah Stier

The New York Post's Brian Costello noted that Darnold had a strong finish to the season and could be a safe and efficient choice for the Jets going into 2021. Other insiders believe that the Jets would not be able to net a first-round pick in exchange for Darnold after having invested the No. 3 overall selection for him back in 2018, making it harder for the front office to justify trading him. Keeping Darnold would also allow the franchise to use the No. 2 overall pick to fill other needs, or trade it to a team seeking one of the other highly rated signal-callers behind Lawrence.