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How NFL Economics Will Dictate The New York Jets Decision Of Trevor Lawrence Vs. Sam Darnold

Lose, rinse, repeat. 

As the beats go on for the New York Jets, now the only winless team in the NFL at 0-6, a debate has emerged over what the organization should do if is fortunate enough to be in a position to draft superstar Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence next spring. 

The two sides of the debate are as follows: Should New York select Lawrence and anoint him as its quarterback of the future, or should the Jets trade the No. 1 pick (presuming they get it) for more assets and stick with current quarterback Sam Darnold? 

Some fans, and even some NFL pundits, such as ESPN commentator Keyshawn Johnson, believe the latter option is the way to go. Johnson, both a former Jet and a former USC Trojan, the same as Darnold, is convinced that Darnold has not been given a fair chance to prove himself with the Jets because of the lack of talent surrounding him and the lack of coaching acumen displayed by the embattled Adam Gase. 

To some extent, that camp has a legitimate argument.   

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It’s not Darnold’s fault that the Jets’ offensive line has been shaky, to say the least, during his two-plus years in the pros. Nor is it on Darnold that general manager Joe Douglas chose not to re-sign one of his favorite targets, wideout Robby Anderson, who now is thriving with Carolina. Anderson’s free-agent replacement, Breshad Perriman, has missed three games with an ankle injury and has yet to make an impact. 

Worse yet, second-round pick Denzel Mims of Baylor, another speedy wide receiver, has yet to see game action because of chronic hamstring issues. Darnold hasn’t had the best talent surrounding him while with the Jets. 

Gase must share in the blame, too. His unimaginative and predictable play-calling is a major problem, and he has not been able to fix Darnold’s footwork and throwing mechanics, both of which are less than ideal for an NFL quarterback.

However, it is Darnold’s fault that he often holds onto the ball too long. He also has trouble going through his progressions quickly, a problem he has had since his college days at USC. In fact, it was a combination of those two weaknesses that led to the shoulder injury that currently sidelined him. He failed to see an open Michael Cager against Denver on Oct. 1 and eventually was body-slammed to the turf for a sack, resulting in an AC joint sprain.  

Darnold has missed the last two games and it is unclear when he will play again, although he returned to practice Wednesday on a limited basis. Gase told reporters before practice that Darnold would be a on a “pitch count” and would make limited throws. Gase indicated it would be important to see how he feels Thursday after throwing Wednesday. It still isn’t known whether Darnold will play Sunday against visiting Buffalo.  

There is no question Darnold hasn’t been dealt a good hand. But there is no way to go back in time and change those things, most of which Joe Douglas had nothing to do with. He only can deal with what is in front of him. Cutting or, more likely, trading Darnold before the 2021 season will result in $9.6 million of dead money on the Jets’ 2021 salary cap. But that would be better than picking up his fifth-year option next May and being on the hook in 2022 for somewhere in the neighborhood of $25 million for a quarterback who may not be the long-term answer. 

And, if the Jets are able to draft Lawrence, he would be in the comparatively inexpensive first year of his rookie contract in 2021. Unless the New York Jets are 100% positive that Sam Darnold is The Man at quarterback for them going forward, it makes no sense for them to pick up his fifth-year option next May. 

The worst-case scenario, if they aren’t in a position to draft Lawrence, or, perhaps select Justin Fields of Ohio State, would be to not pick up Darnold’s fifth-year option but keep him around and give the former USC star one last chance in green and white to prove himself.

Source: Forbes – Business

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