San Darnold
NFL Executives doubt Jets would get 1st-round pick for Sam Darnold. What is Darnold worth in a potential trade? (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

The 0-4 New York Jets are very much in the running for the number one overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Sam Darnold is now hurt with an AC joint sprain to make matters better (or worse, depending on perspective). If the Jets get the first pick, they’re going to draft Trevor Lawrence out of Clemson. But, where does that leave Darnold?

The Jets incumbent quarterback would likely be used as trade bait. What could the Jets actually get in return for Darnold?

Adam Schefter of ESPN surveyed NFL executives, many of whom doubted that the Jets could land a first-rounder for Darnold:

“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 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.”

Another GM also predicted the Jets wouldn’t get back a first-round pick for Darnold.

“The high-water mark would be a [second-round pick] for him,” one GM said this weekend. “I think they could get a [fourth-round pick] for him, but if he finished positive for him, they might get a 2 for him. In college, he was a turnover machine. In the NFL, he has been a turnover machine. I just don’t think he has the credentials to go for a 1.”

A third GM cautioned that a first-round pick was possible, adding, “If you still believe the guy is a top-pick-caliber QB, and consider his circumstances, you don’t close the door on it.”

Schefter essentially used three varying opinions for his piece. I still believe in Darnold, who has nothing to work with. As Jordan Palmer stated last week, nobody in the NFL has more to overcome. Nobody creates separation. If Darnold isn’t perfect, the pass isn’t completed.

Is a first-round pick out of the question? I don’t believe that’s the case. Teams like the Colts, Bears, Saints, Buccaneers, Steelers, and Vikings could use him. Those teams also likely won’t be in a position to draft a top tier prospect. Would you rather have Darnold or reach for someone like Kyle Trask? That’s an obvious decision in my mind.

Darnold’s play the rest of the season will determine his value. The Jets are 0-6 in games that Darnold doesn’t start, so they will likely sit him as long as possible to help their draft position.