Aug 27, 2016; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets GM Mike Maccagnan talks with New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson in the 1st half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports
New York Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan announced that he’s open to trading down in the 2017 NFL Draft. Given the team’s sixth-overall selection, he should find several suitors.
The New York Jets have entered the early stages of rebuilding mode. It seems they were in this position two seasons ago, although they truly weren’t. Facing a cap penalty because of former general manager John Idzik’s inability to acquire players in his two years on the job, they were in “spend now” mode. Wide receiver Eric Decker was the lone significant player signed in his tenure.
General manager Mike Maccagnan was left with over $50M in cap room and he had no other choice but to go on a free agent frenzy. He doled out big contracts to Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist to eat up a majority of that space. He also traded for Brandon Marshall whose contract was a bargain. Now, all five of those players might be gone.
With New York trying to clear up as much cap room as possible, draft picks will be of high value as well. Gang Green has holes at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, left tackle, outside linebacker and cornerback, so they can use any pick they can get. They own selections six, 39, 70, 107, 150, 191 and 224 with more potentially on the way.
The sixth-overall pick is obviously an appealing slot. The Jets will definitely have trade partners on draft night especially when you consider the top-10 talent. Leonard Williams slipped to New York in 2015. Just imagine the offers Maccagnan would get if Jonathan Allen or one of the top safeties fell. Here are three teams they can trade with if that opportunity were to surface.
Next: 3. Indianapolis Colts (15th overall)
Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts general manager Chris Ballard speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
3. Indianapolis Colts (15th overall)
It’s safe to say the Indianapolis Colts are inept on defense (30th overall in 2016). They’re also getting older. Vontae Davis seems to have lost his mojo while Arthur Jones and Kendall Langford have reached their 30s. With little to no stardom on that side of the ball, now would be a great time to start looking. A whopping $53.3M in cap space is a good foundation and trading up could put them over the top.
The Colts would be an ideal trade partner for the Jets. With two premiere safeties in Jamal Adams and Malik Hooker at the front of the class, Indy might have their replacement for long-time veteran Mike Adams. The 35-year-old is set to hit the market and the team is abysmal at the position in the first place. T.J. Green earned a 38.3 overall grade on Pro Football Focus and Duke Williams saw a mere 91 snaps. Clayton Geathers is their only hope at safety right now.
A bold move in round one could be exactly what they need. Their offense is the last thing they should be worried about. Their defense is the only thing preventing them from Super Bowl contention. They currently own picks 15, 46, 80, 122, 144, 158 and 200. The Jets could take their first and second-rounder this year and perhaps their first in 2018. Indy probably wouldn’t consider this move, but they’re just a few defenders away from getting back to that elite level.
Next: 2. Philadelphia Eagles (14th overall)
2. Philadelphia Eagles (14th overall)
The Philadelphia Eagles are another team that could benefit from trading up in this year’s draft. They’re incredibly weak at both running back and wide receiver as we saw in 2016. Nelson Agholor has become a disaster, Jordan Matthews isn’t a No. 1 wideout and Dorial Green-Beckham hasn’t lived up to the hype.
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As for the backfield, they’re in desperate need of a bell cow. Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles or Wendell Smallwood cannot handle that role. This is where the sixth-overall selection comes into play. At that spot, the Eagles have a strong chance of landing LSU standout Leonard Fournette. The guy is an athletic freak of nature and even if they don’t like him, Dalvin Cook will be on the board.
If they decide to take the wide receiver path, Mike Williams of Clemson and Corey Davis of Western Michigan are the two to look at. They bring size and strength to the table along with the ability to mold into a No. 1 wideout.
Philadelphia has the flexibility to get this done despite their trade last season. They recouped a decent amount of picks through trading DeMarco Murray and Sam Bradford. They own picks 14, 43, 74, 119, 139, 155, 194 and 230 in this year’s draft. In 2018, they own a first, a third, three fourths, a fifth, a sixth and a seventh-rounder. If they were to trade with New York, I think you could see them give up their 2017 and 2018 first-rounders. If not, a pair of second-rounders and that stash of fourth-rounders could make sense.
Next: 1. Cleveland Browns (12th overall)
Mar 1, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cleveland Browns executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
1. Cleveland Browns (12th overall)
The Cleveland Browns are the most logical prediction for a Jets trade partner. Joe Thomas is by far the best guy on their roster and he’s getting up there in age. They’ll get a superstar Myles Garrett with the first overall pick, but they have another 10 selections at their disposal. They own picks one, 12, 33, 52, 65, 108, 142, 145, 175, 181 and 185. Why not use the 12th pick to leapfrog into the top 10? Cleveland has the ammo and a reason to do it: quarterback.
Mitch Trubisky, DeShone Kizer, and Deshaun Waston have the potential to be drafted in the top 10. As pure pocket passers, they can also make plays with their legs as well. You have to view Trubisky as the best of the three given his rapid development and quick release. Kizer also showed growth from his first season under center, but he has to be groomed. Watson, of course, is the reigning national champion who’s capable of taking over a franchise in a matter of years.
The only question is how much would it cost the Browns to move from 12 to six? Well, they’ll definitely have to cough up either a 2018 first or multiple second-rounders to make it happen. Given how bad Cleveland will be for the next few seasons, the first-rounder might be a bit steep. What I would expect are the Browns to give the Jets the 12th pick plus their two 2017 second-rounders for the 6th pick. The value seems fair and both teams come out winners.