The Jets decided not to put Sam Darnold on injured reserve because that would've required him to miss the next eight weeks and, according to Jets coach Adam Gase, the quarterback's expected absence is "not going to be that long."
But it could be close.
Though many initially assumed that, after the 22-year-old Darnold was diagnosed with mono, he would return in Week 5 -- right after the Jets bye week -- the Jets just aren't sure he'll be able to be back that quickly. The truth is the Jets don't know yet when to expect him back, multiple sources said.
And two doctors told SNY that it's hard to envision the young quarterback returning before mid-to-late October at the earliest. The best guess seems to be the Week 7 game on Monday night, Oct. 21, at home against the New England Patriots.
The reason for the uncertainty is that there are too many unknown factors with mono, and his recovery. There is the immediate danger that mono could result in an enlarged spleen, which is why both doctors -- neither of whom examined Darnold -- suggested he'd need at least a month of inactivity before returning to the football field.
After that, they said he'd likely need another few weeks to regain his strength and whatever weight he lost, especially if he was unable to eat much while he was sick. It won't help that the Jets won't -- and can't -- let him back in their facility to work out until doctors determine he's not contagious anymore.
So that's six weeks and five games right there, and it will take him up to that Monday night game against the Patriots. And that's if everything goes right.
But again, the Jets just can't possibly know. The virus has to run its course, and they'll have to see how Darnold and his body respond to it and recover. Even if all that happened fast, one doctor said a return for the Eagles game on Oct. 6, after the bye, seemed like a stretch. Perhaps the game in Dallas, one week later on Oct. 13, might be the best-case scenario.
For the moment, though, the most accurate thing to say is that Darnold is out indefinitely, and Trevor Siemian is the Jets' starting quarterback for the foreseeable future -- possibly even for the rest of the first half of the season.