New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold runs against the Los Angeles Rams during an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 20, 2020, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)
- Despite an unstable situation in NY, the best odds put Sam Darnold back with Jets
- Matthew Stafford, Jameis Winston not going anywhere, oddsmakers suggest
- See the odds below, along with a breakdown of possible landing spots
Sam Darnold is under contract through 2021 with a fifth-year option available for 2022, but the 2-14 Jets will be in a position to draft a top passer this off-season, possibly Justin Fields at No. 2, leaving open the possibility that the Jets keep Darnold around to tutor his heir-apparent. Joe Flacco is the current backup, but he’ll likely wind up as a veteran backup somewhere else in 2021.
A month ago, the Jets were in control of securing the first-round draft pick with an 11-0 record. Although Darnold’s future landing spot remained a topic of speculation, the odds still favored Darnold being a starting quarterback in 2021. But if he wants a change of scenery, there are a few possible openings. The Colts, Bears, Cowboys, Patriots and Saints could have starting spots available in 2021.
Odds Where Sam Darnold Plays Week 1 of 2021 Season
|New York Jets||-220|
|Washington Football Team||+600|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1000|
|Las Vegas Raiders||+1500|
Odds from Jan 6
Darnold, the former No. 3 overall draft pick, had a horrendous season for the 2-14 Jets. In only 12 starts, Darnold threw more interceptions (11) than touchdown passes (9) with a completion percentage of 59.6. There is not much of a market for him now, although the latest reports seem to indicate the Jets no longer think that Darnold is untouchable. After Adam Gase was fired as coach on Sunday, the new coach will have a lot to say about Darnold’s future in New York.
But there are those, including ESPN analyst Mel Kiper, who think that the Jets will pass on Justin Fields and stick with Darnold. He sees the Jets as more interested in drafting Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell or trading out of the No. 2 spot with the Bengals, who could use another offensive lineman to protect Joe Burrow.
.@MelKiperESPN believes that with the No. 2 pick the Jets will stick with Sam Darnold, pass over Justin Fields, and either draft Penei Sewell or make a trade. pic.twitter.com/EFScqGXyDD
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) January 5, 2021
At the start of the season, there were rumors swirling that Darnold would be traded by the November 3rd deadline. Yet the odds at that time were long that Darnold would be moved, and a trade did not come to fruition even as the team continued to struggle.
The Jets decided to play out the season with Darnold and use the off-season to make a decision on his future. With the lack of starting jobs available, there wasn’t a market to pay what the Jets would have been asking mid-year.
Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker
It Wasn’t All On Darnold
Darnold can be given a pass because he had several obstacles this past season. He had to deal with COVID and there were several injuries on the offensive line and at the wide receiver position. The offensive line had trouble creating sustained chemistry, and the Jets didn’t have their top three receivers on the field at the same time until Week 9.
Best Bet: Jets
Odds Where Matthew Stafford Plays Week 1 of 2021 Season
|Washington Football Team||+650|
|San Francisco 49ers||+1000|
|New England Patriots||+1100|
Matthew Stafford is under contract for two more years and there may be limited trade possibilities because he will count more than $60 million against the cap in the next two years. Chase Daniel is the No. 2 on the depth chart, so at 34, it’s not likely he’s the answer if Stafford goes elsewhere.
Vote of Confidence
Stafford threw 26 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions with a completion percentage of 64.2 and received a strong vote of confidence from interim head coach Darrell Bevell, who said Stafford is the type of quarterback who can lead a team to a Super Bowl. And when asked if he would keep Stafford as QB if given the job, Bevell replied “Yes, I would.”
Today should be the final game for Matthew Stafford in a @Lions uniform. He goes down as one of the franchises best players, & certainly one that represented the city of Detroit & its people as well as anyone. He needs a new home-let him leave…The Lions need a full reboot.
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) January 3, 2021
But at age 32, Stafford may not want to be part of another rebuild after they fired head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn and the Lions stumbled to a 5-11 record, which was their third straight losing season.
Indianapolis could be a landing spot with veteran Philip Rivers possibly retiring after the season. And with Mitch Trubisky becoming a free agent in 2021, it’s hard to imagine the Bears giving him another contract. In Washington, Alex Smith is under contract for two more years, so it wouldn’t be surprising if the 36-year-old is brought back on a reworked deal.
Best Bet: Lions
Odds Where Jameis Winston Plays Week 1 of 2021 Season
|New Orleans Saints||-130|
|Washington Football Team||+700|
|New England Patriots||+750|
|New York Jets||+2000|
Winston will be a free agent in 2021. He came to New Orleans on a one-year deal with the intention of rehabilitating his career. But while Brees recovered from 11 broken ribs and a punctured lung, the No. 2 job ultimately went to Taysom Hill.
New Orleans coach Sean Payton still declares that he could see a future with the former No. 1 overall pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015. Winston saw action in only four games in 2020-21 and attempted only seven passes.
Seven years ago today, Jameis Winston won a National Championship.
None of the 14 starting quarterbacks in the playoffs this season have accomplished this feat. pic.twitter.com/nw5s6Ye3Bm
— Andrew Pasquini (@pasquiniandrew) January 6, 2021
Hill is under contract for 2021 for money that would slot somewhere between a starter’s and a backup’s salary. But he didn’t show enough in four relief appearances to suggest he’s a lock at No. 2. The Saints have a restricted salary-cap situation, so they may decide to go with Winston or a draft pick at QB.
Bengals Make Sense
Once Winston’s contract is up, the 26-year-old may have to start looking elsewhere. ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter thinks a possible landing spot for Winston is with the Cincinnati Bengals with Joe Burrow recovering from a torn ACL and MCL. That makes a ton of sense.
Best Bet: Bengals
Curtis has been a sports writer for more than 40 years, contributing to the Toronto Star, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, the Guardian and Forbes. He has covered the NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, PGA, ATP and WTA. Curtis resides in Toronto.