Trevor Lawrence is the most touted college quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck. With that, there will be quite a bit of jockeying in the second half of the NFL season to attempt to sway where he lands, and perhaps not just from perspective suitors.
Earlier this week, Lawrence made a seemingly innocent comment about his future at Clemson, one that caused WFAN callers to wonder if he was afraid that landing with the New York Jets could derail his NFL career.
"My mindset has been that I'm going to move on," Lawrence told the collective media Tuesday. "But who knows? There's a lot of things that could happen."
Lawrence does have the option to return to Clemson in 2021 for his senior season, and given that he's 35-1 in his collegiate career, you can understand why the thought would cross his mind. Still, it would be malpractice for Dabo Swinney to do anything other than push Lawrence to the NFL next season. If he had been eligible to enter the NFL Draft after his sophomore season, Lawrence would have been the No. 1 pick. If he enters after this season, he will be the No. 1 pick. He would have nothing left to gain - and potentially, quite a bit to lose - by returning to Clemson for a fourth season.
It would be a shocking outcome for Lawrence to not enter the NFL Draft after this season, and his comments shouldn't lead anyone to think there's a legitimate chance that it happens.
The more interesting discussion to be had is whether he and his eventual agent will try to push their way to another team than the Jets, who are 0-8 in 2020 and could very well finish the season without a win.
Eli Manning, of course, pushed his way to the New York Giants in 2004, after the San Diego Chargers selected him with the No. 1 overall pick. No such power moves have been completed since then by a top quarterback, though there was some speculation - perhaps fueled by his camp - that Joe Burrow may try to avoid landing in Cincinnati last offseason.
Ultimately, Burrow was selected by the Bengals with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, and while the team is 1-5-1, four of their five losses have been by less than a touchdown. Clearly, the Bengals need to address their offensive line this upcoming offseason, but you get the feeling that Burrow has already changed the culture within the franchise, in the same way that Kyler Murray did the year before that in Arizona.
If the Jets end up with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, that same opportunity will exist for Lawrence. Any franchise that lands the No. 1 pick is going to be in bad shape, but the Jets are far from uniquely bad.
The organization already seemingly has their franchise left tackle in Mekhi Becton, who they elected to select with the No. 11 pick in this past year's NFL Draft, passing up on the chance to make a sexier pick of any of the top three wide receivers in the class - Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb. Having that stalwart protecting the blindside of your franchise quarterback, of course, is extremely important.
What's more, the Jets will have ample draft capital to address the many other holes that exist on their roster. In each of the next two seasons, the Jets will have multiple first-round picks because of the Jamal Adams trade with the Seattle Seahawks. While both figure to be near the bottom of the first round, any first-round pick is coveted.
Additionally, if the Jets plan to select Lawrence, they'll almost certainly trade former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold. It's difficult to know exactly how much Darnold would recoup in a trade, but one would think that, at a minimum, general manager Joe Douglas would be able to get a second-round pick for his services. That will add to the treasure chest of draft picks.
After an underwhelming rookie campaign, defensive end Quinnen Williams, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, has three sacks and 28 combined tackles in his sophomore campaign. While there's some speculation that he could be a candidate to be dealt before next week's trade deadline, the Jets would probably be wise to keep him as a building block. That said, if they move him for a first-round pick - like what the Miami Dolphins did last season with Minkah Fitzpatrick - it may fit their timeline better. Either way, Williams will provide the Jets with value for quite some time.
From a personnel standpoint, the Jets figure to look completely different in a couple seasons. In addition to possessing five picks in the first three rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, Over The Cap estimates that the Jets will have north of $81 million in cap space this offseason.
It would be understandable if Lawrence or any other prospect wouldn't be keen on playing for Adam Gase, but there's next-to-no chance Gase will still be employed by the Jets in 2021. He may not survive the Jets' bye week in Week 10.
Truth be told, the Jets could attract a pretty exciting head coaching candidate this offseason. Whether it's a a top NFL coordinator like Eric Bieniemy or Josh McDaniels, or an elite college coach like Lincoln Riley, the Jets could have their pick of quite a few top candidates this offseason if the belief is that they'll ultimately land Lawrence. Who wouldn't want to coach a team with a ton of draft picks, cap space and a potential generational quarterback talent?
It may not feel this way right now, but the Jets might be the best landing spot among the contenders for the No. 1 pick, which also includes the Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars and Atlanta Falcons. Playing for the Jets would offer Lawrence the chance to potentially turn around a downtrodden franchise in relatively short order, all while being in the best city to market yourself in the world.
Without getting hyperbolic, Lawrence shouldn't be concerned at all about the possibility of landing with the Jets. If anything, the Jets should excite the 21-year-old.