With Sam Darnold eyeing the New York Jets’ starting quarterback job halfway through the preseason, general manager Mike Maccagnan offered tremendous praise for the No. 3 overall pick on Monday.
“Of all the young quarterbacks I’ve been around, I’ve been exceptionally impressed by Sam,” Maccagnan said on WFAN radio. “Sam probably is at the top of that list.
“...Every day he goes out there, he gets a little better. He literally just turned 21. He’s a very young person. But it’s all the stuff we knew about him coming out of college. All the stuff people thought about him there. His personality, his work ethic, the way he handles pressure. ... That’s the thing that’s probably impressed me the most about the kid. He’s been really sort of unflappable.”
Head coach Todd Bowles, the man who will be deciding who starts for the Jets, has said the team will give Darnold every opportunity to win the starting job, and the rookie hasn’t disappointed so far.
He had a strong preseason opener — 13 for 18 for 96 yards and a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons — before drawing extensive praise from Washington Redskins cornerback Josh Norman during joint practices last week. He cooled off some in the game, going 8 for 11 for 62 yards against Washington without finding the end zone and throwing his first interception.
Still, Maccagnan is confident that Darnold’s overall trajectory is promising.
“I’m sure he’s going to have good days and bad days, there’s going to be adversity,” Maccagnan said. “But it’s just watching that combined with the ability that we always kind of knew he had. It’s really exciting to see him develop and come along.”
The rookie’s progress suddenly gives the Jets a deep quarterback group, with incumbent starter Josh McCown and free agent signee Teddy Bridgewater playing well, and could open the window for a trade. McCown’s age (39) and salary ($10 million) make him an unlikely candidate to be moved, but Maccagnan has reportedly been gauging the market for Bridgewater for the last few weeks.
Monday, Maccagnan didn’t speak to Bridgewater specifically, but he suggested a trade could be coming.
“There’s nothing to stop us from keeping three (quarterbacks) and there’s nothing to stop us from keeping two,” he said. “...We feel fortunate to have three quarterbacks we really like quite a bit.
“Again, we can very easily keep three quarterbacks and if something were to arise, we can go with two if that’s the case.”
The New York Daily News reported Monday that at least two teams have expressed interest in trading for Bridgewater, and the Jets have had several discussions with such teams. The report adds that there have not yet been concrete offers to prompt a move, but plenty of time remains for a deal to come together.
The Jets could gain leverage if a team’s starter goes down with a significant injury, while another team might be interested in Bridgewater as a veteran backup. The Denver Broncos — who have Bridgewater’s former teammate, Case Keenum, installed as the starter — currently have 2017 seventh-round pick Chad Kelly at No. 2 on the depth chart, with 2016 first-rounder Paxton Lynch disappointing.
Bridgewater, 25, has impressed this preseason while showing no ill effects from the gruesome knee injury he suffered just before the 2016 regular season. Through two games, he is 17 of 23 for 212 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Bridgewater’s former offensive coordinator, current Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, voiced his confidence in the QB on Monday, telling reporters, “don’t sleep on Teddy because I think he’s got it in him.”
—Field Level Media