Broncos: 49ers blockbuster trade impact on George Paton’s plans?

Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft - Zach Wilson. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Denver Broncos 2021 NFL Draft - Zach Wilson. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images) /
3 of 6
Denver Broncos, Sam Darnold
Oct 1, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold (14) throws the ball as Denver Broncos linebacker Malik Reed (59) pursues during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

2. Sam Darnold should be very available

After Zach Wilson’s pro day at BYU and the trade by the 49ers to move up into the third overall spot in the NFL Draft, it’s pretty clear that Sam Darnold is going to be on the outs in New York.

Darnold, the third overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, was the apple of John Elway’s eye that year and the Broncos might have traded up to get him if things in an alternate timeline, but here we are.

Darnold is only going to be 24 this season, he’s got three seasons of fighting his way through playing in Adam Gase’s offense, playing with horrible teammates (in terms of their abilities), horrible management, and constant roster turnover in a brutal media market.

Darnold could have certainly risen above and been the guy to raise all boats in New York but like all college players coming to the pros, he did not enter the NFL without flaws and things to work on.

He had to learn the hard way and as a result, he and the Jets have not played well in the last three years. The jury might still be out on Darnold’s long-term NFL prospects, however, and because he was such a highly-touted prospect just three years ago, perhaps there is merit to the idea of giving him a shot as a reclamation project.

Darnold has played some good ball in two appearances before the Broncos, getting hurt in the 2020 contest the two teams played against each other, and has certainly had his flashes of brilliance.

If the Jets’ plan is Zach Wilson with the second pick, then Darnold’s value in a trade is not going to be as strong as it once was. When the writing is on the wall, the team trading away a player loses some leverage especially when you’re talking about a risk/reward player like Darnold.

There’s no sure thing here.

The Broncos and GM George Paton could hold firm with a third- or fourth-round pick in an offer for Darnold, or maybe a player-for-player swap.

One way or another, the Broncos’ options to upgrade at quarterback have dwindled in recent days, and Darnold could be had for a more team-friendly price at this point.