New York Daily News

LIFE AFTER SAM

Jets don’t deny Zach is their man, but they thought about keeping Darnold AND drafting QB

- DJ BIEN-AIME II

Jets general manager Joe Douglas is ready to draft a quarterbac­k of his own. Douglas admitted the obvious a day after dealing the disappoint­ing Sam Darnold to the Panthers on Monday, saying Gang Green is locked in on a QB in the draft.

“I think that’s a fair assessment to say based on the decision we made yesterday,” Douglas said after collecting a 2021 sixth-round pick and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022 from Carolina. “We’re excited about this quarterbac­k class. So, we still have a lot of our process left in these three plus weeks leading up to the draft. Obviously, there is an unknown factor when you’re talking about rookies and young players. But ultimately, the amount of work that our coaching staff put into this draft class and the amount of work our scouts have put in this draft class, we feel good about the type of person we’re going to be able to bring in.” Darnold had a tumultuous run in Green. In three seasons he threw for 8,097 yards, with 45 touchdowns and 39 intercepti­ons and a dismal passer rating of 78.6. His record as a starter was 13-25.

But Douglas said the Jets would have kept Darnold if their first-round pick wasn’t the No.2 overall pick the draft.

“I think it’s safe to say that, if our pick was a little later, we wouldn’t have been having this discussion,” Douglas said. “We’d fully be comfortabl­e moving forward with Sam.”

There was also talk within the Jets organizati­on about keeping Darnold and drafting a quarterbac­k at No. 2. But the Jets decided against it because of the potential friction that situation could cause.

“Ultimately, we felt that that wouldn’t be the best situation for Sam, the rookie quarterbac­k, coach (Robert) Saleh and his staff, and the locker room,” Douglas said. “We felt like this was the best decision for the entire organizati­on moving forward and hitting the reset button.”

Keeping Darnold and drafting a quarterbac­k would have been a disaster, and Douglas clearly is smarter than that (although former GM Mike Mccagnan might have been foolish enough to attempt it).

Throughout the draft process, the Jets have been linked to BYU’s quarterbac­k Zach Wilson.

A telling moment occurred during the press conference. Douglas was asked about the comments Hall of Famer Steve Young — a star QB for the Cougars in the 1980s — made last week that the Jets were “committed to Zach” and were “recruiting the family.” Douglas didn’t deny the reports.

“Steve is pretty plugged into BYU, I know,” Douglas said.

“It was good being out there at the Pro Day, and just had an opportunit­y to speak to (Wilson’s) representa­tives. Say hello to a couple of members of his family quickly. BYU put on a great pro day for the entire NFL. First-class organizati­on and it was a good day out there. Like I said, we’re excited about this class.”

When Douglas was asked a follow-up question about recruiting Wilson’s family, he gave a soft denial.

“No, I had a brief conversati­on with his agent, and his father at the pro day. It was a good conversati­on. It was good to say hello to them.”

Douglas can spin things however he wants, but all indication­s point to the Jets taking Wilson.

The way it’s looking, the draft starts at No. 3 when the 49ers go on the clock.

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 ?? GETTY ?? As Sam Darnold heads off to Carolina, Jets look for new start and don’t leave much doubt about what they’ll do in draft.
GETTY As Sam Darnold heads off to Carolina, Jets look for new start and don’t leave much doubt about what they’ll do in draft.

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