The first decision to be made by new Jets coach Robert Saleh will be one of his most important: Who will the team’s quarterback be in 2021, and beyond?
They have Sam Darnold under contract for one more year, with the ability to pick up his fifth-year option before May 3. They also hold the second overall pick in the draft, which gives them control of the board after the Jaguars select quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
There’s an initial glimpse into Saleh’s mindset, or maybe it’s a smokescreen. Via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, Saleh and incoming offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur believe, after watching “a lot” of Sam Darnold tape, that the quarterback has “untapped potential.”
For now, the third overall pick in the 2018 draft sits at No. 4 among the the five first-round quarterbacks taken that year. Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield, the first selection, plays today. Bills quarterback Josh Allen, the seventh pick, already has punched his ticket for the AFC Championship. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the final pick in round one that year, has won a league MVP award.
Can Darnold join them? Unless the Jets are trying to boost his trade value or otherwise conceal their intentions, maybe he can. Maybe in the Kyle Shanahan-style offense, Mike LaFleur can help Darnold tap into that potential.
And then LaFleur will be a head coach somewhere else, and the Jets will need a new offensive coordinator to work with Darnold.
But that’s an issue for another day. For now, the clock has begun ticking toward a fairly important decision regarding whether the Jets should stick with Darnold or draft a new quarterback. In this regard, any and all words are simply a meaningless precursor to action.