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Good time for Joe Douglas to give Jerry Jones a call


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The most fascinating deal would be for Sam Darnold, who was the subject of some preliminary trade chatter this weekend. The Jets are 0-5 and on pace to finish with the worst record in football, which would clear a path for them to take Clemson signal-caller Trevor Lawrence with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Darnold, who missed Sunday's loss because of a shoulder injury, has flashed moments of potential during his time with the Jets, only to be let down by subpar decision-making and one of the league's worst supporting casts.

The Darnold situation looms large for the Jets because of a change in the league's fifth-year option language. After this year, they will have to decide whether to pick up Darnold's option for the 2022 season, which would include a substantial raise. In years past, the fifth-year option was guaranteed only for injury at signing, which allowed teams to move on if a player wasn't impressive in Year 4. Under the new CBA, the fifth-year option is fully guaranteed at the time a team picks it up, which means the Cowboys would then be on the hook for Darnold in 2022, when they might not use Darnold as their starter.

If the Jets decline the option, though, 2021 turns into a lame-duck year for the third overall pick of 2018. If the Jets can get Lawrence, declining the option would be the obvious move, and moving on from Darnold would give the Jets a better chance of grabbing Lawrence. Schefter reported that general managers around the league didn't see the Jets picking up a first-round pick for Darnold via trade, but a second-round pick could be a more realistic haul.


The Cowboys would be able to surround Darnold with significant weapons. Trading for Darnold would also put them in a fascinating situation. If Darnold stepped in and played well, the Cowboys could pick up his option and move on from Prescott, trade Darnold or decline Darnold's option and pick up a compensatory pick when he moves elsewhere. If he struggles, well, the Cowboys would be out a second-round selection minus a possible midround compensatory pick. I'm not sure the Jets are willing to deal Darnold, and I don't think it makes sense for the Cowboys to go after him unless Dalton is not as good as expected, but there's a narrow band in which a Darnold trade could make sense for Dallas.


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