‘This One’s for Sam:’ Darnold Trade Could Leave Jets Thanking Former QB

New York Jets Sam Darnold

Getty Sam Darnold motioning to the camera after being selected by the New York Jets in the 2018 NFL Draft.

One of the most famous lines in football history originated from the late Denver Broncos owner Pat Bowlen after Super Bowl XXXII proclaiming, “This one’s for John,” in reference to his future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway finally winning a championship in his 15th season.

If New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas ever gets that rare opportunity to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, he should channel his inner Bowlen. With a slight alteration, he should bellow, “This one’s for Sam,” of course, in reference to Sam Darnold, the team’s since-departed quarterback and No. 3 overall pick in 2018.

Douglas Hitting the Reset Button His Way in 2021

Sam Darnold Jets

GettySam Darnold poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 2018.

Darnold was jettisoned to the Carolina Panthers on April 5 in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick, plus second and fourth-round selections in 2022, per NFL insider Ian Rapoport.

Douglas, now entering his third year on the job, played a part in trading away the best potential franchise quarterback prospect the Jets have had since “Broadway” Joe Namath. But he now has a shot at redemption thanks to a sterling reputation around the league, which paved the way for a record-breaking six-year commitment from the green and white in June 2019.

A contract of that magnitude comes with some assurances, including the ability to survive. Douglas didn’t draft Darnold. Douglas didn’t hire former head coach Adam Gase. In 2021, he now gets to hit the reset button his way.

This offseason, Douglas has handpicked his new head coach in Robert Saleh. Plus he’ll have his handpicked quarterback with the second overall pick, presumed to be Zach Wilson of BYU.

The main reason “This one’s for Sam” should be one of the first things out of Douglas’ pie hole when the Jets win their next championship is what Darnold’s legacy means. While he never reached his full potential with the Jets, a large part of that due to terrible personnel decisions, poor coaching and an unstable environment. It’s important to keep him in mind moving forward.

Jets Must Surround Next QB With a Strong Supporting Cast

The Jets owe it to the fans, to the team and quite frankly to the ghost of Darnold (pun intended) to do right by their next quarterback.

Darnold should be a constant reminder that simply selecting the right signal-caller is only half of the battle. Quite often the determining factor in whether a quarterback busts or becomes a star is beyond their control.

A wise man once said you’re a product of your environment and that statement couldn’t be more true for NFL quarterbacks. The coaching, the talent and the situation are truly the difference.

Fortunately, Douglas is currently the most powerful man in the NFL in terms of draft capital, armed with 21 selections over the next two years, including 10 picks later this month. He has a chance to do what he never did for Darnold: build an infrastructure that can support the development of a young passer.

Ultimately, the NFL Draft is an educated crapshoot. Every team has a lottery ticket that could prove to be a franchise-changer or it could simply end up being a dud. It’s up to Douglas to make the most of this opportunity.

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