Philadelphia Eagles: Mark Sanchez suggests a trade for Sam Darnold

Heading into the 2021 NFL calendar year, the Philadelphia Eagles have one quarterback under contract.

With Carson Wentz gone and Nate Sudfeld finally allowed to test the open market – if such a market exists for the 2016 sixth-rounder – the Eagles will surely add someone to fortify the position grouping moving forward via free agency or the draft, whether that player is a certified challenger for Jalen Hurts‘ spot as QB1 or simply a veteran shoulder for the young QB to lean on.

But, as you most assuredly already know, there is another way to acquire players in the NFL, via trade, and a former Eagles quarterback has an interesting idea on how to add a little competition to the quarterback’s room.

Yeah, you’re going to want to hear this one, my friend.

Could the Philadelphia Eagles land their next “red rocket” in Sam Darnold?

Despite spending two years as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, Mark Sanchez will forever be remembered for his tenure with the New York Jets – or should I say, one specific play with the New York Jets.

The Butt Fumble.

A play that is quite literally named after what it is – Sanchez fumbling after running into Brandon Moore’s behind – while also perfectly describing just how bad a fumble said fumble was.

Could such a feat have been pulled off any a quarterback for any other team but the New York Jets? Sure, but the fact that Sanchez was the Jets’ “Sanchize” quarterback at the time makes things all the more funny and all the more representative of the plight of New York’s other football team this side of Y2K.

So if anyone knows about trying to get a young quarterback – especially one who played his college ball at USC – out of North Jersey the Big Apple to save their career before it’s too late hopefully, Sanchez would be the guy to talk to.

Which is why when he suggests that Sam Darnold should do everything in his power to get his butt traded, ESPN is going to get him on one of their morning shows (Get Up!) to state his case.

Really, that isn’t too surprising. But what is a bit telling is where Sanchez suggested Darnold should hope to go should a trade actually go down: The Philadelphia Eagles.

In theory – Sanchez’s theory – the idea is pretty clear: The Eagles have one of the least sure thing quarterback situations in the NFL and could easily find themselves looking for a new young signal-caller this time next year, if not midway through the 2021 NFL season should Hurts falter under center in Nick Sirianni’s first-year offense. Assuming Darnold can stop seeing ghosts and return to his vintage USC form removed from the clutches of Adam Gase, such a situation could set the still-only-23-year-old QB up for a long career in a slightly different shade of green uniform.

With five, maybe more, quarterbacks expected to go in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, and a slew of ex-starters like Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and potentially even Jimmy Gorappolo all expected to find new homes in free agency, it’s rather unlikely that Darnold will be able to land a starting gig anywhere in the league without having to duke it out in a good ole’ fashion QB competition. Landing with a head coach who doesn’t have a pre-existing relationship with his young quarterback might just be the best opportunity Darnold could hope for to rehab his image, on-field abilities, and ultimately career.

But would Howie Roseman actually pull off such a deal? By my estimation, the answer is… maybe.

Regardless of how you feel about Darnold as a player, acquiring his contract won’t be cheap monetarily or from a compensation standpoint.

For one thing, Darnold is about to enter the final year of the four-year, $30 million contract he signed in 2018. While the Jets will have to eat part of his contract if he is traded pre-June 1st – roughly $5 million to be exact – any new team will still be on the hook for roughly $4.7 million, or the total value of his contract save his prorated bonus.

While the Eagles have shown a willingness to invest heavily in the backup quarterback position during the Roseman-era – they did draft Hurts in the second round after all – that number would still place Darnold as the 31st-highest-paid quarterback in the league pre-free agency and the draft.

Is Darnold worth that kind of money? Sure, but is he a luxury the Eagles can afford considering their cap situation.

And then comes the non-financial compensation that Roseman would surely have to surrender to get Darnold away from his old friend Joe Douglas, who would surely love to make a deal with his former employer but surely won’t be handing out a “friends and family” discount.

Assuming the Jets do use the second-overall pick on Zach Wilson or some other quarterback – which would be a very Jets thing to do – they would surely like to get Darnold off the books as soon as possible to further build their roster around their new signal-caller. That’s what happened with the Arizona Cardinals after they selected Kyler Murray first overall in 2019, and is surely what Douglas would attempt to do in order to squelch any Wentz-Hurts situation before things get heated.

If we use the Cardinals-Dolphins trade for Josh Rosen trade as a blueprint, that would suggest that the Jets could likely secure a second-round pick and a fifth-round pick for Darnold’s services.

That would surely be a no-go in a deal for Darnold.

Sure, Darnold has been far more successful in the NFL than his former UCLA counterpart – which isn’t saying much considering the resumes of both players – but considering he’ll only be under contract for the remainder of the 2021 season plus any playoff run, it’s hard to imagine his value reaching much higher.

But, for argument’s sake, what if Douglas called up Roseman and offered his 23-year-old quarterback’s services for nothing more than a third-round pick, which the Eagles currently have two of?

That, my friends, is where things could get interesting.

While the Eagles could surely land a decent enough quarterback in the third round on a four-year contract worth maybe $4.7 million overall, do any of the potential QBs available – quarterbacks like Filippe Franks, Davis Mills, and KJ Costello – really have the same ceiling as Darnold at this point in their respective careers? Darnold isn’t even two full years older than Hurts and was considered a blue-chip *can’t miss* prospect coming out of USC by many a talent evaluator. Where would he fall in the 2021 NFL Draft if he was available? The fourth QB taken? Fifth? Even if he was the sixth quarterback taken, that would surely come before the Eagles are on the board in the third round, at 70 and 85th overall.

Is a player like Davion Taylor, Rasul Douglas, or Isaac Seumalo worth more than a chance to see if a former third overall pick can recapture his college form and become a viable NFL starting quarterback, especially if the team is left with another third-rounder to play with? That may just be too good for “Quarterback Factory” foreman Howie Roseman to pass up.

So in a way, Mark Sanchez was dead on that the Philadelphia Eagles are a perfect landing spot for Sam Darnold. The team only has one quarterback under contract, has a first-year head coach with no real connection to his current QB, and is unlikely to select a fresh signal-caller in the first round. But does Sam Darnold make sense for the Philadelphia Eagles? In some ways, yes, but in others, the answer is a resounding no. Either way, the Butt of many an NFL joke has added yet another wrinkle to the Eagles’ offseason that may be worth monitoring depending on how the free agency QB carousel shakes out later this month.