Tank for Trevor.
Or intentionally lose for Trevor. The rallying cry for many football fans. That’s how badly some fans want their teams to snatch Trevor Lawrence.
Only a junior, Clemson quarterback Lawrence is projected to be the top pick in the 2021 National Football League (NFL) Draft.
The NFL Draft is an annual event that lets teams recruit players through seven rounds. Players in the draft are ranked based on their stats, collegiate career and potential. The order of the selection is based on the rankings of the recent season, meaning the worst team in the league picks first and the Super Bowl champion picks last. In the event of a tie, the NFL looks at the strength of schedule (win percentage against opponents).
While being number one in the NFL Draft is an incredible achievement, Lawrence might decide to risk it all. In an interview with the media, Lawrence was asked about whether or not he would consider staying another year at Clemson.
“My mindset’s been that I’m going to move on, but who knows?” he said. “There’s a lot of things that could happen. I’m just really focusing on this year and not trying to look ahead. That’s a tough one, but we’ll see how it all unfolds.”
Why would he not want to get drafted?
It all comes down to what teams might draft him. The team currently leading the lottery for Lawrence is the New York Jets. The Jets have a historic track record of not playing well to the point that it’s laughable.
The Jets are currently 0-9, losing this past Monday to the New England Patriots and solidifying their spot as the worst team in the entire NFL. A questionable head coach in Adam Gase, injuries and inconsistent mediocre quarterback play by Sam Darnold (once thought to be the franchise savior) have all contributed to their lousy record.
If the Jets end up with the number one overall pick, a very real possibility, there is a good chance that they will move on from Darnold and draft Lawrence. This allows the organization to rebuild, potentially hire a new head coach and draft better players.
Joe Douglas, the Jets general manager, has taken measures that look like steps towards a giant rebuilding plan. He created flexibility in the salary cap (creating upwards of $82 million in cap space), made deals with great offensive players to strengthen their offensive line and collected draft picks through trades.
The potential firing of Gase will give the next coach a blank canvas to work with, and with Lawrence on a rookie contract, they can mold and train him and it won’t cost the organization much.
Along with the rebuilding, rumors began to circulate that the Jets are actively “tanking for Trevor.” Pat McAfee, sports analyst, podcaster and former punter for the Indianapolis Colts, stated on his show that he has a source claiming the Jets are purposely losing games in order to “tank” for Trevor. He clarifies that this source is not a coach or player but rather a higher-up in the Jets organization.
“[The Jets] are legitimately, full-court press, attempting to lose every football game,” a text from an anonymous source told McAfee, claiming that the Jets are in an “all-out press for Trevor Lawrence at this point.”
If hypothetically Lawrence is drafted by the Jets, he could still find a way out of it.
In 2004, Hall of Fame quarterback Eli Manning stated that he did not want to go to the San Diego Chargers, who drafted him first overall. Soon after that, he was traded to the New York Giants. In 1983, John Elway, also a Hall of Fame quarterback, brushed off the then Baltimore Colts before being traded to the Denver Broncos.
If Lawrence were to return for his senior year, it doesn’t guarantee anything. Given the history of the franchise, the Jets are probably going to be in a similar position next year. Lawrence could still get drafted one year later. In fact, returning to Clemson shouldn’t even be an option.
As a freshman, Lawrence led his team to a national title. Would he rather play another year, essentially a filler year, with his collegiate team than secure a space in the NFL?
Regardless of whether or not Lawrence ends up with the Jets, hopefully his career will continue to be successful, and the Jets can take time to rebuild their organization.