The New York Jets with the 20th overall pick selected linebacker Darron Lee. That almost didn’t happen according to general manager Mike Maccagnan.
Imagine a world where the Jets are without a first round pick. It’s hard to imagine because it hasn’t happened since 2005. The first player the Jets drafted back in ’05 was kicker Mike Nugent out of Ohio State. But yes, that was almost reality when the Jets were on the clock on the first day of the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Jets ‘strongly considered’ trading their pick to none other than the Dallas Cowboys, Jets GM Mike Maccagnan admitted to Mike Francesa on Tuesday on WFAN radio. Maccagnan made his rounds around the local media hot spots including The Stephen A Smith show and The Michael Kay Show.
As it was reported, the Cowboys reached out to several teams drafting in the teens and 20’s, including the Jets, in hopes of moving back into the first round to select quarterback Paxton Lynch. Owner of the Cowboys, Jerry Jones, was very open about his frustration with his inability to trade back into the first round.
What Dallas was offering was their second and third round draft choices (No. 34 and 67), according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated. Maccaganan expounded upon the Jets interest in the trade:
“The deal was a deal we strongly considered,” Maccagnan said. “And probably came fairly close to it. But at the end of the day, we liked the player at [No.] 20, and felt good about taking him and going forward.”
The Jets opted to utilize the pick to select Lee from Ohio State.
“It was a situation where, maybe if there’s different players available and Lee wasn’t available, maybe it would have been a trade we would have considered [even] more strongly,” said Maccagnan. “Everybody uses trade charts, so you try to figure out what’s fair. At the end of the day, we felt it would be better in our interests to hold onto the pick and take the player.”
Let’s delve into the world that Maccagnan accepted said trade from the Cowboys, even though Jones revealed he should’ve overpaid.
“When I look back on my life, I overpaid for my big successes every time,” Jones said to the Star-Telegram via The Denver Post. “And when I tried to get a bargain, get it a little cheaper or get a better deal on it, I ended up usually either getting it and not happy I got it. Or missing it.
“And I probably should have overpaid here.”
So imagine an even bigger possible package for the Jets, but we’ll stick with the offer that was on the table. The Cowboys ended up selecting linebacker Jaylon Smith out of Notre Dame, 34th overall and with their third round pick selected defensive tackle Maliek Collins 67th overall.
The Jets aren’t one or two pieces away from the Super Bowl, unless of course you consider the quarterback position one of those missing pieces. But the Jets could’ve strongly benefited from the additional second and third round draft choices.
Smith would’ve been a wise investment, Myles Jack could’ve been as well who was also on the board at that time. Or perhaps the Jets could’ve made a stronger effort in addressing their offensive line issues with those additional mid round picks.
We heard the Jets almost landed offensive lineman Laremy Tunsil by trading up in the draft and it seems they did indeed have options trading back as well. Ultimately they stuck to their board and got their guy in Lee, but it’s always interesting to contemplate the ‘what if’ scenarios in the grand scheme of things.