https://www.si.com/nfl/2021/04/08/inside-story-of-why-jets-traded-darnold-new-qb-search Why the Jets Dealt Darnold and the Search for Their Next QB Why GM Joe Douglas made the move, and why he doesn’t care if he one day looks bad for doing it. Plus, the offseason’s five biggest takeaways, lessons from the QBs who did pan out, and more. ALBERT BREER 8 HOURS AGO The Jets’ separation from the quarterback they took third overall in 2018 didn’t happen overnight. Sam Darnold had to go through the second coaching firing of his short career first, then wait for his team to find a replacement for Adam Gase and complete a quarterback evaluation process that, thanks to circumstances created by COVID-19, took at least a month longer than it otherwise might have. For a lot of players, especially with the bullhorn social media has given everyone, being stuck in that sort of limbo might lead things coming undone in a pretty public way. But that never happened with Darnold. Nor did anyone expect it to. From the Jan. 3 end to the Jets’ 2–14 season to his trade to Carolina on Monday, the 23-year-old handled himself the way that he’d basically handled everything else over his three years in Jersey. And for that reason, the element of the doing the deal that hit Jets GM Joe Douglas hardest came at the very end, and had nothing to do with its terms, or a natural fear of getting it wrong. “It was laid out like, Hey, if you guys do this, we’ve got a deal,” Douglas says from his office on Wednesday afternoon. “And 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. “So yeah, when that phone’s ringing, you know it’s going to be a difficult conversation. But at the same time, you know it’s not, because he’s such a first-class guy.” The call didn’t take long. Douglas thanked Darnold. He told him that he wished things could’ve worked out differently. He expressed appreciation for the quarterback handling another the tough situation the way he did. And as Douglas hung up, the course of the Jets franchise had changed. In-depth analysis, unrivaled access. Get SPORTS ILLUSTRATED's best stories every weekday. Sign up now. The deal delivered Darnold a new beginning in Carolina. It brought Douglas a sixth-round pick this year, and second- and fourth-round picks in 2022. But with it done, the reality here is much simpler—Douglas’s long-term fate as GM, and where his new coach, Robert Saleh, is able to take the team will now be tethered to the result of all of this. And hard as that call to Darnold might’ve been to make, there was nothing haphazard about how Douglas and Jets arrived to where they are today, set to spend the second overall pick on another quarterback.