Winners, losers of the Sam Darnold trade
Sam Darnold Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

We have yet another blockbuster around the NFL world leading up to the draft. The New York Jets finally pulled off a Sam Darnold trade.

Reports on Monday indicated that New York dealt Darnold to the Carolina Panthers for three NFL Draft picks. Those include a sixth-rounder in 2021 as well as second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. To say New York received a better-than-expected bounty for the struggling quarterback would be an understatement.

Darnold, 23, has thrown 45 touchdowns against 39 interceptions in 38 career starts since the Jets made him the No. 3 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. During that span, he’s also posted a 13-25 record as a starter while completing less than 60% of his passes.

New York took advantage of desperation on the part of the Panthers after they missed out on Matthew Stafford and with the Deshaun Watson situation completely up in the air. Owner David Tepper showed interest in Watson before troubling allegations of sexual assault became public record.

As for the Panthers’ quarterback situation, it remains to be seen what will happen with current starter Teddy Bridgewater after he struggled in his first season with Carolina.

Meanwhile, New York will now use the second pick on a quarterback. Said selection is expected to be BYU product Zach Wilson. Below, we look at the winners and losers from Monday’s blockbuster Sam Darnold trade.

Winner: Jets general manager Joe Douglas

New York Jets general manager Joe Douglas Danielle Parhizkaran/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Being able to acquire three draft picks for a struggling quarterback everyone and their mother knew would be traded is a major win for Douglas. He had no built-in relationship with Darnold.

Meanwhile, it’s become darn clear that the Jets are going to draft a quarterback with the second pick in the 2021 NFL Draft later this month. It’s absolutely insane that New York was able to acquire a second-round pick for Darnold. Add in the two mid- to late-round selections, and Douglas took Carolina’s brass to the proverbial dry cleaners.

Loser: Teddy Bridgewater’s future up in the air

Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Signed to a three-year, $63 million contract last offseason, Bridgewater was the true definition of a mediocre quarterback in his first season with Carolina. The former Minnesota Vikings first-round pick completed 69.1% of his passes for north of 3,700 yards. However, he also threw just 15 touchdowns against 11 interceptions.

There’s a chance Carolina simply looks to release Bridgewater after June 1. Said move would save $7.9 million against the cap. It would also create an absurd $15 million overall dead cap hit. A trade or restructure could also be in the cards.

Winner: Zach Wilson is the future in New Jersey

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson USA TODAY NETWORK

That’s it. This former BYU standout is now likely to head to New Jersey and be the Jets’ quarterback of the future. He’ll end up being the face of the franchise after jumping onto the scene for the Cougars last season. He’ll have a widely respected head coach in Robert Saleh as well as an innovative offensive mind, coordinator Mike LaFleur.

Wilson seems to be an ideal fit in LaFleur’s system. It’s going to be run much like what we see from Kyle Shanahan with the San Francisco 49ers. With above-average accuracy and a cannon of an arm, Wilson is set up to succeed out of the gate. New York’s ability to add wide receivers Corey Davis and Keelan Cole to the mix will also help out.

Loser: Panthers show desperation in Sam Darnold trade

Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule talks with team owner David Tepper. Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

It’s already known that Carolina offered up the eighth pick to the Detroit Lions for Stafford before he was dealt to the Los Angeles Rams. It also showed interest in Watson before the above-mentioned allegations of sexual assault. Simply put, Tepper wants to find that franchise quarterback he had in Pittsburgh with Ben Roethlisberger when he was a part-owner of the Steelers.

From what we’ve seen Darnold do in three NFL seasons, he’s not going to be the answer. A total of 45 touchdowns against 39 interceptions in 38 starts are just not going to cut it. Meanwhile, Carolina gave up three valuable NFL Draft selections and will pick up the 2022 option on Darnold’s contract for a whopping $23.6 million.

Winner: San Francisco 49ers’ trade market for Jimmy Garoppolo

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

This is a pretty major backdrop. Despite his struggles with injuries over the past few years, there’s no objective person out there who believes Jimmy Garoppolo is a lesser quarterback than Darnold. Heck, the 29-year-old signal caller threw for nearly 4,000 yards with 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions en route to leading San Francisco to the Super Bowl back in 2019.

Despite what the 49ers want us to believe, Garoppolo is firmly on the trade block after they acquired the No. 3 pick in this month’s draft. San Francisco wants a first-round pick in exchange. Based on what Darnold netted the Jets, that’s now no longer out of the question.

This article first appeared on Sportsnaut and was syndicated with permission.

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