Now that he’s signed, Sam Darnold can officially enter the competition to be the New York Jets’ starting quarterback.
After drafting him third overall in April’s draft, the New York Jets made Sam Darnold their quarterback of the future and quite possibly the immediate present. But he was not yet in training camp through the weekend, leaving Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater to take all the practice snaps.
But after some reported conflict regarding contract language, including offsets and potential outs for the Jets, increasing buzz Monday morning pointed to Darnold being signed at some point in the day.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the terms a four-year, $30.25 million ($20 million guaranteed) for Darnold, with the typical fifth-year option attached to the rookie deals for first-round picks. After that, the team confirmed deal has been reached by posting a video showing Darnold’s arrival at the facility.
After starting 13 games for the Jets last year, and playing solidly (18 touchdowns, a 67.3 percent completion rate and a 94.5 passer rating), the 39-year old McCown was brought back on a one-year deal this offseason. The team also took a no-risk flier on Bridgewater, as he works his way all the way back from a substantial knee injury nearly two years ago.
Darnold hasn’t missed much training camp, with padded practices just starting for most teams around the league. So his opportunity to win the starting job is not at all gone, and in one respect or another McCown and Bridgewater are not formidable competition.
In theory the Jets are having an open competition at quarterback, with McCown, a (hopefully) healthy Bridgewater and Darnold having an equal shot to win the starting job. But if he’s fully healthy Bridgewater is an extra, tradeable asset, and McCown is an ideal experienced backup to mentor Darnold or be a capable fill-in if needed.
The Jets aren’t expected to be a playoff team this year, but the future is reasonably bright. As long as Darnold stays healthy and isn’t a disaster in preseason games, that future seems sure to start Week 1 against the Detroit Lions on Monday Night Football.