1. Sam Darnold
Darnold came into the NFL with high expectations, but the Jets have largely botched his tenure as a professional quarterback. It’s very possible they won’t be interested in exercising his fifth-year option when the time comes to guarantee Darnold big money.
If they don’t, expect a number of teams to express interest in trading for his services. The Jets might not want to let him move to a division rival, but the Patriots have more than enough draft capital to make a deal happen.
It’s easy to envision a scenario where Darnold turns his entire career around by moving to a more stable franchise. He needs to be coached at a high level and Belichick isn’t afraid to spend that kind of energy working with a talented quarterback. The two could form a perfect marriage in New England.
Trading for Darnold would be just the sort of reclamation project Belichick loves to take on. The team will face stiff competition to fend off other suitors, but the price will still prove very reasonable for a starting quarterback. He represents the best realistic replacement for Newton.