The first few dominoes have fallen in what could end up being the wildest offseason in NFL history for quarterbacks, with Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff trading places while Carson Wentz readies to suit up for the Indianapolis Colts in 2021. For the moment, , but there's also the matter of Sam Darnold and the New York Jets that must be addressed -- seeing as Darnold has been the topic of trade rumors since long before Wilson was thrown into the fray.
As newly hired head coach Robert Saleh begins to settle in, his first order of roster business will be to decide if Darnold can be salvaged and made into a top-tier quarterback after suffering massive regression under Adam Gase, or if he'd rather start his regime in New York with new blood at the position. Considering the team has the No. 2-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, he's in position to easily move in either direction, but running back La'Mical Perine is lobbying for the former, and wants Saleh to keep Darnold right where he is going forward.
"No disrespect to any of the quarterbacks that's in the draft, but I actually had a chance to play with Sam and was able to be in the backfield with him, so I know what he brings to the team," Perine told NFL Network's "Good Morning Football", via NFL.com. "He's a great leader, man. We've just got to put good weapons around him, and he can very well succeed and be one of the top quarterbacks in this league."
As it stands, the Jets are hellbent on first evaluating the incoming class of QBs before making a final decision on Darnold, and that hints at what might be a long wait for any possible trade. It is true Darnold lacked the weapons to be successful in 2020, having lost speedy wideout Robbie Anderson to free agency and then witnessing a disgruntled Le'Veon Bell having been released. It all led to a career-worst season that saw Darnold throw for only 2,208 yards and nine touchdowns to 11 interceptions and a passer rating of 72.7 in 12 starts. He was also sacked a career-high 35 times last season, which only made matters worse.
It's all of this and more that lead Perine, the team's fourth-round pick in 2020, to pound the table for Darnold.
"He's a great vocal leader, a great guy to be around, competitive and I'm ready to look forward to him," Perine said. "I hope he's on our team this year being my starting quarterback."