Sam Darnold is in a less than desirable spot. Not only is the Jets quarterback still sidelined due to a shoulder injury, but the former first-round pick is watching his team go winless through the first nine games of the 2020 season. Darnold's tenure in New York hasn't gone as the organization had hoped when he was taken with the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft out of USC, as the quarterback currently owns an 11-21 record as a starter. Of course, that poor record is only partially on the shoulders of Darnold as the Jets brass hasn't exactly been able to build around the young signal-caller.
Nevertheless, when you combine this poor record with the fact that New York could be looking at the potential of being able to draft Clemson phenom Trevor Lawrence or even Ohio State's Justin Fields, it would appear like the clock is ticking on the Darnold era in East Rutherford. But that's not just the opinion of "Joey in the Bronx," former Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez also believes that time may be running out for Darnold with Gang Green.
"Because of the way things have transpired, he's got to make some serious decisions about the longevity of his career and whether or not playing the rest of this year is even worth it," Sanchez recently told the New York Post's "Gang's All Here" podcast. "If it's in his best interest. If this season is at a loss, which it looks like already. It's not like they're going to turn around and make a playoff run. Now you get into these tough decisions as a competitor thinking, 'Man, maybe my time's up here and that's okay. Maybe it's best for both sides to move on.'"
Sanchez does have a point as it may be better for Darnold's long-term prospects of landing with another club if he were to fully heal that shoulder in preparation for the 2021 season instead of risking himself for a team that he likely won't be playing for in a year's time. In the six games that Darnold has been able to play, he's completed 58.6% of his passes, is averaging just 174.2 yards per game, and has three touchdowns to six interceptions.
"Part of it is that there's just nothing working in their favor right now, right?" Sanchez said of the Jets. "It's not a real veteran group, it's not guys who played together for a long time and there isn't just a star-studded cast that can figure it out or just use their talent and make plays. So it's really the triple-threat in the wrong direction.
"…There's just so much uncertainty that it's almost impossible for a quarterback to have success with all those circumstances. I feel for him."
If this road ultimately leads down a path where the Jets are looking at Lawrence and, in turn, put Darnold on the block, New York could see a solid return for their once face of the franchise as he's signed through 2021 and has a fifth-year option for 2022. Given that there will likely be a number of QB-needy teams this offseason, Darnold's market could be robust. That said, he needs to return to full strength to get his career back on track.