The 2020 New York Jets can be summed up in a word: Trainwreck.
They fielded the NFL's least efficient offense, second-lowest-graded passer (Sam Darnold), and second-lowest-graded receiving unit. And New York's defense produced the seventh-worst single-season coverage grade in the past decade.
It was the cherry on top of a truly abysmal five-year stretch for the New York Jets franchise. After the team's 2020 campaign, New York now has the league’s worst win percentage over the past five seasons (28.7%). Darnold — the No. 3 overall pick in 2018 — was supposed to turn the franchise around. Yet, only Mitchell Trubisky has a lower passing grade over the past three seasons than him. His accuracy and decision-making aren't that of a quality starter, which is a key reason why the Jets come in at No. 32 in expected points added per pass play since the former top-three pick took over three years ago.
If there were any year to have an uncompetitive roster, it was 2020. For one, there were no fans in the stands for most teams, so there is no reason to worry about lost revenue from that. More importantly, though, this upcoming draft class includes one of the best quarterback prospects the NFL has ever seen: Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. The Jets seemed to be a shoo-in to claim the No. 1 overall pick — and, subsequently, Lawrence — after an 0-13 start, but per usual, disaster struck. The Jets ended up winning two of their final three games, moving them from the first overall pick to the second.
Despite that, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. As a matter of fact, there is an opportunity for the franchise to build a Super Bowl contender this offseason. That is, however, assuming the Jets cut ties with Darnold, which surprisingly seems unlikely, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo and ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Not doing so would almost certainly alter the state of the franchise for the worse considering the signal-caller options ahead of them.
There are three different paths for new head coach Robert Saleh and the Jets to take this offseason: 1) Retain Darnold, 2) tap into the veteran quarterback market via trade or 3) take another quality quarterback prospect with the second overall pick in April. The second and third paths — in addition to other moves — could put the Jets in the contention conversation within the next few years. Here's how it can be done.
PLAN A (THE DREAM SCENARIO)
Trade the farm for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
An interesting situation between the Texans and Watson that is almost never seen in the NFL will unfold this offseason: A young star quarterback has become disgruntled with his current team and could force his way out of town via trade. The most likely outcome of this saga is that Watson is still a Texan come Week 1, and the betting markets seem to agree, but there is still a very real possibility the 25-year-old quarterback joins a new team, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.