Report: Sam Darnold might return to USC to avoid certain teams at top of NFL Draft

Have faith Trojan fans, Sam Darnold might not be done yet. The sophomore quarterback isn't ruling out the possibility of coming back for his junior year, per Albert Breer of MMQB, especially if things fall in a particular way regarding the 2018 NFL Draft order.

Breer reports that Darnold wants to see what teams are picking first next year. And if one of them is the Browns -- or a team like the Browns? He might head back to USC for one more ride.

The San Francisco 49ers, the other winless team in the league, might eschew quarterbacks in the first round after acquiring Jimmy Garoppolo at the trade deadline. The other option, of course, would be to trade that early pick. If the 49ers get the first overall selection, that might be the route that they would want to go if a team has enough interest in Darnold to leap-frog the Browns.

The Browns had initially traded for AJ McCarron on Tuesday, but reportedly the paperwork for the deal with the Bengals didn't go through before the 4 p.m. ET deadline. Since then, none of the news out of Cleveland has been good. Darnold and Penn State running back Saquon Barkley are considered the top-level talent in this particular draft, and should Darnold not come out, there will be other options for teams at quarterback. UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen and Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph would all see their stock rise should Darnold decide to stay.

All of this, of course, would be moot if Darnold drops in the draft. CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso projects Darnold to go as low as 15th, depending how the rest of the season shakes out.

There are, of course, questions about Darnold at the NFL level, and anyone can drop on draft day (see: Teddy Bridgewater, among many others). However, if Darnold does see the Browns pulling the trigger on him, he may not want any part of it.

For the Browns, things have gotten worse as this saga has unfolded. Darnold staying in college to avoid playing for them would just be the icing on a horrific season.

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