New York Jets coach Adam Gase not 'waving white flag' after flurry of trades

The New York Jets are sellers, but not quitters.

Despite three trades and the high-profile release of running back Le'Veon Bell, coach Adam Gase insisted Monday the 0-8 Jets aren't giving up on their lost season.

"I never look at waving the white flag. That's not in my DNA," said the embattled Gase, who has a 7-17 record, including eight losses by 20 or more points, with the Jets over the past two seasons.

The latest move came late Sunday night, when they shipped linebacker Avery Williamson to the Pittsburgh Steelers for a swap of fifth- and seventh-round picks in 2022. Previously, they traded nose tackle Steve McLendon and linebacker Jordan Willis to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.

In fire-sale mode, the Jets picked up three 2022 draft picks (all in the fifth and sixth rounds) in the three trades while surrendering a trio of seventh-rounders, in 2021, 2022 and 2023. The returns haven't been huge, but general manager Joe Douglas is looking to create playing time for younger players by dumping expiring contracts.

The trade deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and the Jets are open to more deals. The organization is focused on the future, but that doesn't help Gase, whose job security is waning by the week.

"We have guys that other teams see value in and we're able to get draft picks due to it," he said. "I know it's not always ideal, but that's the NFL. That's what it is. That's part of what happens when you don't win. We're at a part of the season where we haven't won a game yet, and things like this happen."

The Jets, trying to avoid the first 0-9 start in franchise history, are the frontrunners for the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL draft. The presumptive top choice is Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

That could make Sam Darnold expendable. The struggling quarterback, who took a hard hit on his previously injured throwing shoulder in Sunday's 35-9 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, had a precautionary MRI after reporting soreness. He later appeared on The Michael Kay Show on ESPN New York radio and said the MRI "turned out really good."

"The shoulder is stable, so that's good," Darnold said Monday. "I woke up today feeling really good, honestly a lot better than I thought I would. So that's a good sign."

Gase sounded hopeful that Darnold would be able to practice and play next Monday night against the New England Patriots (2-5). Darnold missed two games after spraining the AC joint on Oct. 1.

"We're making sure we're not putting him in harm's way to where any further damage could be done," Gase said.

Considering the state of the season, it could make sense to shut him down to let the shoulder heal, but the Jets haven't considered that option.

"Sam wants to be out there. That's a big part of it, too," Gase said. "That's why we're making sure everybody is aligned on this. We need him out there. He gives us the best chance to win on Sundays."

Another reason could be trade value. If the Jets land the top pick and decide to take Lawrence, they probably would try to trade Darnold. With only three touchdown passes in six starts, his value is low right now.

"I'm focused on playing as much as I can and not missing any games," Darnold said. "That's my thought, first and foremost. I just want to play every game I'm capable of playing. If I miss a game and I'm capable of playing in it, that's my worst nightmare. And I don't want to do that to this team."