The New York Jets fanbase has yet to receive official word that Aaron Rodgers is coming to Florham Park, but a former NYJ QB has earned a new contract.
That player is former first-round draft pick Sam Darnold, who is heading to the San Francisco 49ers according to ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter. It will only be a one-year deal, per Schefter, but it’s still a pretty favorable landing spot for the highly touted USC prospect who has fallen on hard times.
Sam Darnold Will Compete With Brock Purdy & Trey Lance for 49ers Starting QB Role in 2023
It’s an odd dynamic in San Francisco with six-year starter Jimmy Garoppolo signing with the Las Vegas Raiders (per Schefter and Dianna Russini). This is an unquestioned Super Bowl contender who finished one win short of an NFC title in 2022, and yet, they do not have a clear starting quarterback heading into next season.
The favorite to land the job is “Mr. Irrelevant” Brock Purdy, who led the Niners to the NFC Championship last year. After the reported signing, ESPN’s Field Yates confirmed this, tweeting: “The 49ers now have the 3rd overall pick in the 2021 draft at QB (Trey Lance), the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 draft at QB (Sam Darnold) and it’s plausible that both will back up the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft (Brock Purdy).”
Having said that, Purdy is coming off elbow surgery and is no sure thing despite his magical run a season ago.
Then you have Trey Lance — who has actually been a bigger bust than Zach Wilson and Darnold combined so far. The first-round talent has only managed eight NFL outings to this point, and his completion percentage is a miserable 54.9 over that span. Lance does have six total touchdowns to go along with three interceptions and one fumble, but his overall output has been far from impressive in a QB friendly system like Kyle Shanahan’s.
That’s where Darnold comes in. So long as he picks up the playbook well this summer, one would assume that the plan is to have the recent Carolina Panthers starter backup Purdy, with Lance in a developmental role similar to Wilson in New York.
Darnold led the Panthers to an 8-9 record over 17 starts and a two-year tenure. His numbers in Carolina were very similar to what he accomplished with the Jets, hovering around a 59% completion rate with an average of nearly 204 passing yards per game (213 per game in New York).
Turnovers were still a huge problem for Darnold during his first campaign with the Panthers, throwing 13 interceptions at a 3.2% INT rate — not to mention nine fumbles. He did a better job limiting the mistakes in 2022, with just three picks in six starts. Unfortunately, the fumbling issue has not changed, as Darnold lost the football another six times on the ground last season.
Trey Wingo Reports Aaron Rodgers to Jets as ‘Done Deal’
At exactly 2:52 p.m. EST on March 13, media personality Trey Wingo — who appears to be in Rodgers’ inner circle — tweeted that he’s “hearing Rodgers to the Jets is done.” Wingo clarified: “History about to repeat itself between New York and Green Bay. Time is indeed a flat circle.”
The last time Wingo broke news on Rodgers and the Jets, he was right, but NFL insiders have insisted that no trade has been confirmed despite this.
Several Jets players have also shared messages that have implied the four-time MVP is joining Gang Green, including Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, C.J. Uzomah, Breece Hall and more.
Uzomah even hashtagged Super Bowl LVIII at the end of his tweet, with an Avengers GIF that could symbolize the forming of a super team. The theory behind that is — if Rodgers comes, other veterans will too.
Who knows, maybe we’ll even see a Jets-49ers Super Bowl in winter of 2024, with Aaron Rodgers facing off against Sam Darnold. I know, I know, first things first.