The NFL quarterback conundrums are in full force this offseason.
New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas said Wednesday the team would "answer the call" regarding any potential trade inquiries for 23-year-old quarterback Sam Darnold. While the 49ers have said Jimmy Garoppolo will be their starting quarterback to start the 2021 season, San Francisco could consider Darnold as a back-up option for next season.
This would make sense for a multitude of reasons. While the starting role is solidified already by Garoppolo, the 49ers' back-up quarterback situation remains unclear. Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard both filled in for Garoppolo when the quarterback sustained a season-ending injury in Week 8 last year, but Beathard is set to be an unrestricted free agent and Mullens will be a restricted free agent.
If the 49ers don't bring back either quarterback, Josh Rosen and Josh Johnson remain as other options. However, San Francisco has been linked to Darnold before, and their interest netting a viable backup quarterback certainly connects them to a potential trade.
Still, trading for Darnold would require a steep price. In three years with the Jets, Darnold has thrown for 45 touchdowns and 39 interceptions, but has lacked support offensively. He started 12 games in 2020, posting a completion rate of just 59.6 percent with nine touchdowns and 11 picks.
But Douglas noted Wednesday the team still believes in Darnold's ability to reach his "outstanding potential" and with a new head coach in Robert Saleh, the Jets have reason to believe Darnold can perform at a higher level than previous years.
Darnold's trade value is expected to be worth at least a second-round pick, but the 49ers could be at an advantage with Saleh, who served as the team's defensive coordinator for four seasons before taking the Jets head coach job. Still, San Francisco is expected to use a good amount of their coveted draft picks to fill holes on the roster coming into 2021 and it might not make sense to burn one on a back-up option, especially when Darnold is approaching the final year of his contract.
Regardless, Darnold still offers tantalizing talent and is an intriguing option for the 49ers to consider. If there is one thing the NFL offseason has shown so far, it's that there will be no shortage of quarterback drama. Expect San Francisco to at least consider giving the Jets a call.