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If Sam Darnold Is Back, the Jets Finally Need to Help Him Out

Ryan Phillips
Sam Darnold, New York Jets v New England Patriots
Sam Darnold, New York Jets v New England Patriots / Al Pereira/Getty Images
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It looks like Sam Darnold will be sticking around for a while. Most experts expect the New York Jets to keep their young quarterback and pair him with newly-hired head coach Robert Saleh. On Thursday night, Adam Schefter hit the airwaves on SportsCenter to say just that:

Let's be real, Darnold has had one of the worst rosters around him since he entered the NFL in 2018. The Jets are terrible, put together an awful offensive line and some of the worst skill position units in the league in that time. He also had a horrific head coach in Adam Gase who utterly failed at developing him. We have no idea what Darnold can be at the NFL level yet because he hasn't been given a fair shot. He's still only 23 and has a ton of natural talent, but he's never been given the tools to succeed.

The other starting quarterbacks from the 2018 draft class have seen their teams invest in them by surrounding them with talent. The Baltimore Ravens handed Lamar Jackson guys like Marquise Brown, Mark Andrews and J.K. Dobbins. The Cleveland Browns surrounded Baker Mayfield with Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry, Austin Hooper, Kareem Hunt and an offensive line -- Odell Beckham Jr. didn't really work out so we'll leave him off the list, but at least they tried. The Buffalo Bills added Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, Zack Moss and Devin Singletary to help out Josh Allen. That's how you build around a franchise quarterback. Apparently that message didn't get through to New York.

What have the Jets done to help Darnold? They signed Jamison Crowder to be their top receiver when he's a solid No. 2 at best. They drafted a major project at receiver in Denzel Mims. And while Mekhi Becton has upside, he's not a sure thing at left tackle. A 78-year-old Frank Gore was the team's leading rusher in 2020. Frank Gore!

The Jets have an opportunity to build around Darnold now. They have the No. 2 pick in the draft, plus the 23rd pick, acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams trade. They own their second- and third-rounders and an additional third, also from Seattle. That's a lot of selections with which to build. In fact, since they aren't taking a quarterback, they could trade down from No. 2 and stockpile even more assets. On top of that, the Jets have a ton of cap space to sign free agents with.

There are absolutely no excuses for New York not to build a good roster around Darnold this offseason. A franchise that has neglected the offensive side of the ball for more than a decade needs to finally modernize and invest in the line and skill positions. If it does that, Darnold will have no one to blame but himself.

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