Former USC football quarterback Sam Darnold has spent three fruitless seasons with the New York Jets. Now surrounded by trade rumors, there is hope of getting him out.
Trojan fans everywhere know Darnold is capable of more than he's managed so far as a pro. They should be rooting for the QB to get a move and a jumpstart for his career.
Anywhere that's not New York is a more ideal situation for Darnold than the one he's got now, but where are the best (and reasonably realistic) landing spots for him?
Let's be real. Miami would be the perfect place for Darnold. He'd be reunited with Austin Jackson for one. The Trojan connection isn't the critical element there. It's the fact that the Dolphins have actively worked to upgrade their offensive line over the past couple of years.
The Jets gave up 43 sacks in 2020. The Dolphins allowed 34, an improvement of 24 fewer the year before. While Miami rose into the top half in sack percentage, NY stayed bottom five.
Brian Flores and company appear to be building something solid.
Miami could stick it out with Tua Tagovailoa, but they're clearly uncertain about him. Even if Darnold isn't a definite upgrade, his ceiling appears much higher.
Washington hasn't been the most stable franchise, but Ron Rivera's arrival brings a ton of legitimacy. The former Panthers head coach took the team to the playoffs for the first time in four years despite quarterback injuries and uncertainty. They even gave the Bucs the toughest run for their money in the wild card round with Taylor Heinicke running the show.
WFT will return Heinicke and likely Kyle Allen. They'll have a decision to make on Alex Smith, who is owed more money than the franchise would want to pay an aging QB with neverending injury woes. Between those three and Darnold, the upside is very much in the latter's corner.
While Washington has their own offensive line trouble to sort out (they gave up the second-most sacks in the league in 2020), there's an accomplished head coach at the helm. A change of venue may be all Darnold needs and the WFT could give it to him.
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3. New England
The Patriots need a quarterback and they've been reportedly made calls to gauge the availability of just about all of them. Darnold could be the one.
Sure, going to New England these days still means shouldering the incredible burden of filling Tom Brady's shoes. Still, it's a Bill Belichick-coached team and a well-run franchise. It's about as far from the Jets as Darnold could get in terms of stability.
The Pats could use him too. They had one of the least-productive passing offenses in the NFL last year. As Musket Fire pointed out, Darnold's potential is still strong, especially when you factor in the negative Adam Gase effect. Darnold's dynamism is just what New England needs.