NFL Draft: SF 49ers must explore trade-up with NY Jets in Round 1

If the SF 49ers want to land a quarterback in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft, they should strongly consider a trade-up with the NY Jets.

SF 49ers general manager John Lynch should be actively flirting with the NY Jets this offseason.

Especially if the Niners are intent on grabbing one of the top-ranked prospect signal-callers early in the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Jets, who were winless until their shocking Week 15 win over the LA Rams, pulled off yet another stunner by beating the Cleveland Browns in Week 16, thereby securing the No. 2 overall pick in next year’s draft. And while the immediate feelings of avoiding the “defeated” moniker must be great for New York fans, the two wins have all but ended any serious hopes of getting Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, widely viewed as the top prospect in 2021, who’ll assuredly now go to the top-drafting Jacksonville Jaguars.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller highlighted what the Jets’ top options should be now:

BYU quarterback Zach Wilson has risen up draft boards in recent months and remains a hot name for San Francisco, should the team elect to move on from its current starter, Jimmy Garoppolo, this offseason. With the 6-9 SF 49ers currently slated to pick at No. 14 overall, it seems highly unlikely Wilson falls anywhere close to the Niners’ range in Round 1.

Unless there’s a trade.

The Jets, who currently own 10 picks in next year’s NFL Draft, could still use as many assets as they could get to bulk up a bottom-feeding roster. And while San Francisco would love to keep its current crop of eight picks, plus some potential compensatory picks for the free-agent loss of wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and a possible head-coach hiring of defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, a trade up with the Jets could help set the SF 49ers up with a franchise-changing quarterback for years to come.


Why an SF 49ers NFL Draft trade with the NY Jets makes sense

There have to be a few things assumed here.

For starters, the Niners would want to replace Garoppolo by drafting a long-term replacement. Second, New York would have to either be content with its quarterback, Sam Darnold, or eye another signal-caller this offseason, potentially later in the draft, via a trade or in free agency.

The last given would be San Francisco remaining at or near pick No. 14.

Let’s break out the trusty draft-pick trade-value chart from Over the Cap, which assigns a point value of 2,649 points to the Jets’ No. 2 overall pick. The No. 14 pick is worth 1,663 points, meaning the SF 49ers would have to make up the difference of 986 points either through draft compensation and/or players added to sweeten the deal.

Assuming the latter isn’t an option, the Niners could feasibly move their second-round pick — currently No. 45 overall — which holds a value of 1,071 points to get up to No. 2 in a deal with the Jets.

49ers Get
2021 Round 1 NFL Draft Pick (No. 2 Overall)
Jets Get
2021 Round 1 NFL Draft Pick (No. 14 Overall)
2021 Round 2 NFL Draft Pick (No. 45 Overall)

The problem, though, is a number of other quarterback-needy teams could feasibly be in the bidding war for the No. 2 overall pick.

One template that could potentially define what New York’s asking price could be is the 2016 trade package sent off by the Philadelphia Eagles to the Cleveland Browns for the right to draft quarterback Carson Wentz at No. 2 overall.

Philly sent the following to Cleveland in exchange for the second-overall pick and a 2017 fourth-round pick:

  • Eagles’ 2016 Round 1 pick (No. 8 overall)
  • Eagles’ 2016 Round 3 pick (No. 77 overall)
  • Eagles’ 2016 Round 4 pick (No. 100 overall)
  • Eagles’ 2017 Round 1 pick (No. 12 overall)
  • Eagles’ 2018 Round 2 pick (No. 64 overall)

Going back to the value chart, the above compensation equated to a net total of 5,545 points after subtracting the fourth-round pick sent from Cleveland to Philadelphia.

It’s entirely possible the Jets are looking at a package closer to the one the Eagles used on Wentz and not what the straight-up trade scenario would be for the proposed SF 49ers trade listed above. After all, New York has to be aware of the likely bidding war to take place between now and April’s draft.

If that’s the case, Lynch and Co. have to think twice about mortgaging a sizable portion of the Niners’ future, although dipping into their 2022 draft stockpile might be worthwhile if the move secures the rights to select a franchise-changing quarterback.

Or if the Jets stay closer to a move involving San Francisco’s first two NFL Draft picks, which would be ideal.