With his holdout in the rearview mirror, New York Jets rookie Sam Darnold “has a very fair shot” at being the team’s Week 1 starting quarterback, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Darnold missed roughly a week of camp by holding out
Jets rookies reported to training camp on July 24, and full training camp officially opened July 26, but Darnold did not report for either of those dates amid contract negotiations. The 21-year-old former USC Trojans star eventually reported after agreeing to a four-year deal worth just over $30 million on July 30.
Darnold started his career at USC with a redshirt year and then starred as a redshirt freshman after taking over the starting job early in the season. He threw 31 touchdowns and just nine interceptions. Darnold was expected to be one of college football’s brightest stars as a sophomore but struggled early in the season. He eventually got things on track, though, leading the Trojans to a Pac-12 title and throwing for 4,143 yards, 26 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on the season.
The Jets traded up and took him third overall in this year’s NFL draft.
Darnold is competing with Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater
The Jets are staging a three-way competition for the starting quarterback job between incumbent Josh McCown, former Pro-Bowler Teddy Bridgewater and Darnold. The depth chart currently reads McCown then Bridgewater then Darnold.
McCown, 39, has been all over the NFL — the Jets are his eighth team — but he played well last year in New York. In 13 games, McCown threw for over 225 yards per game and tossed 18 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. Regardless of whether or not McCown starts, he’ll be an important part of this season as a mentor to Darnold, a role he has fully embraced.
Bridgewater, 25, suffered a horrifying knee injury in 2016 training camp and missed the entire season, forcing the Vikings to adjust on the fly. With Sam Bradford and Case Keenum on the Minnesota roster, Bridgewater has played just one game — an emotional return in mid-December — in the last two years. Bridgewater will have to really impress, though, because the Jets can save a lot of money if they decide to cut him.
Could Darnold be the only rookie quarterback to start Week 1?
The Browns have declared Tyrod Taylor their starter over No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. The same goes for Bradford over rookie Josh Rosen in Arizona and Joe Flacco over rookie Lamar Jackson in Baltimore. The Bills have a three-way competition of their own between AJ McCarron, Nathan Peterman and rookie Josh Allen.
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