Sam Darnold’s departure from New York was not a decision made lightly but the hardest part came at the end, when Jets general manager Joe Douglas had to make the call and tell his young quarterback that he would be heading to Carolina to start a new journey with the Panthers.
In an interview with Sports Illustrated published on Thursday, Douglas recalled the tough conversation he had with Darnold, saying it was difficult to break the news to someone who was so convinced that he would be the guy to “turn this franchise around.”
JETS’ JOE DOUGLAS TALKS MOVING ON FROM SAM DARNOLD: ‘WE FELT THAT WOULDN’T BE THE BEST SITUATION FOR SAM’
“The swallow-hard moment for me was just making that call to Sam. You know how much work and dedication he’s put in the last three years here, how many rough situations he’s been through, and never wavered with his confidence. Still, when we had the call, I know in his heart of hearts that he feels he was the right guy to turn this franchise around. I just have so much admiration for how he carries himself.”
Douglas said that there was a lot of back-and-forth initially with the Panthers about trading Darnold for fear that the draft prospects might not work out and where would that might leave the Jets.
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“It was a strong offer,” he said. “We told them, Look, there’s still a lot of boxes left to check. And we just don’t feel comfortable, in case something happens with one of the top two guys, we don’t want to get caught in a bad situation, like one of two guys fails a physical and then we don’t have Sam. So we didn’t do anything.”
Douglas said that after the hiring of head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, they were set on Darnold being their starting quarterback.
“Everyone thought Sam would do well in this offensive scheme.”
But as time went on, the new coaching staff began to come to a consensus on the draft and that changed the role Darnold would have on the team. Douglas said this new vision would not be beneficial to Darnold and that’s when they decided to go ahead with the trade.
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“Whether I look bad or not [for trading Darnold], I could give two s—s about that,” Douglas said. “I know that he’s gonna have success. The timing didn’t really work out for him here. We couldn’t turn this around fast enough for him. And that’s not his fault.”
“I root for good people,” he continued, “and that dude’s a good man, and he’s gonna do good things. I believe that.”