Corey Davis’ quote Tuesday made headlines. But for a team which still is famous for a guarantee, this statement was far from that. And by Friday, that quote seemed even less momentous.
Davis, the newly signed free-agent wide receiver, naturally was asked about the Jets’ unsettled quarterback situation. He responded, “The situation, it is what it is. Obviously, I’m coming in with my understanding that Sam (Darnold) is the guy. That doesn’t scare me away at all. I’ve seen Sam do great things. I have all the belief in him. Whichever direction they decide to go, it’s on me to make sure that I’m ready to control what I can control.”
Put it this way. What was Davis supposed to say? Darnold is still in the building.
But after Friday’s developments around the NFL, it’s fair to wonder how much longer.
Three days after Davis’ Zoom call, general manager Joe Douglas, head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur were far away from the Jets’ Florham Park, N.J. headquarters. They were in Provo, Utah, watching BYU quarterback Zach Wilson’s pro day.
Granted, pro days are pro days, especially for quarterbacks, who literally are throwing against air. Still, if anyone doubted that Wilson, measured at a legitimate 6-2, could make all the throws, that question mark seemingly vanished Friday.
Moreover, developments elsewhere Friday indicated that the race for positioning in the NFL Draft, which is scheduled to begin April 29, already has begun at a fevered pace. Saleh and LaFleur’s old team, the San Francisco 49ers, swung a deal with Miami to obtain the third overall pick, right behind the Jets, who sit at No. 2. It would seem that San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan has had his fill of trying to coax more out of Jimmy Garoppolo and is ready to go in a different direction at quarterback.
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So should the Jets. It certainly is worth noting that Douglas hasn’t had any takers for Darnold’s services in the trade market, even though he publicly declared earlier this month he was open to taking calls from other teams about Darnold.
Previously, he had said during the 2019 season that Darnold was “untouchable.” But that was before Darnold had another lackluster year in 2020. The Jets are rapidly approaching a major decision concerning the 2018 first-round pick, as they must decide by early May whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option.
On a Zoom call afterward, Wilson told reporters, “Joe Douglas is a great guy. It was good to see him out here. They’ve got a good thing going. My Zoom interactions with them have kind of been like with any other team, just trying to go through and they just try to pick your brain, see what you’re about, the way you process things and all that kind of stuff. It’s been good.”
This isn’t to say that Wilson is a perfect quarterback, or that he is as good a prospect as expected top overall pick Trevor Lawrence of Clemson. The fact that Wilson didn’t face any Power 5 teams last season is a definite concern. But it makes no sense for the Jets, who are embarking on a new era with Saleh, Lafleur and the rest of the coaching staff, to bring back the same old quarterback.
And of course, they would get to bring in Wilson on a four-year rookie deal with a fifth-year option. Consider that Darnold’s cap figure this year is $9.794 million. It is much better to take a chance on Wilson and start that economic clock at QB all over again than to hope that Darnold somehow will make a quantum leap in year four when he has shown little evidence thus far that he will.