As yet another unfulfilling campaign nears its end, the New York Jets will enter the offseason again looking to rid themselves of the uncertainty that has plagued the club in recent years.
Figuring out the fate of Sam Darnold is going to be priority numero uno as New York looks to avoid another season in the doldrums.
Ahead of the Jets' Week 17 meeting with the Patriots, Darnold spoke once more about his future with the franchise. The 2018 No. 3 overall pick made it clear he still firmly believes in his abilities.
"I absolutely believe my best days are ahead," Darnold said, per ESPN.
Whether it's as the subject of jokes, 2021 NFL Draft talk or questions regarding his long-term potential, Darnold remains a constant subject of debate not just in the city but across the entire NFL landscape.
Year 3 turned out to be just as erratic as Darnold's first two. While it's true that injuries again hindered him and impacted the availability of his receivers, the 23-year-old still continued to struggle with his decision-making and accuracy. He is the NFL's lowest-rated passer (72.3) and has just eight touchdowns to nine interceptions.
Inconsistent is the word most often used to describe Darnold's tenure, and is one of the biggest reasons fans and pundits alike have clamored for the team to seek a replacement. Considering how little say he'll have in the matter, all Darnold can do is keep focusing on the present.
"I'm a Jet now," he said. "I know we all like to think of hypotheticals and what-ifs, but I'm a Jet right now. I love being here. I love the guys in the locker room. I love going to work every single day here."
Currently occupying the No. 2 spot on draft day, the Jets could make one of those hypotheticals a reality by selecting a top-rated QB. Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State's Justin Fields and BYU's Zach Wilson figure to be in that mix despite not yet announcing their intentions to go pro.
With one year remaining on his rookie contract, Darnold faces a number of options heading into Year 4. New York could exercise his fifth-year option by May and keep him around, or it could elect to move on from its once highly-touted prospect in favor of a new one.
Regardless of the decision, Darnold, who has been solid during the team's improbable two-game win streak, will have a one more chance to leave a good impression. One that could go a long way in determining his professional future.