The New York Jets must make addressing their quarterback situation a top priority this offseason. Here are the top five options for the Jets to consider in either free agency or the 2018 NFL Draft.
With what seems like a yearly tradition, the New York Jets will once again be in the market for a starting quarterback this offseason. Josh McCown has played well this past season but is 38-years-old and once again showed his inability to stay healthy.
Youngsters Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg will get an opportunity to start the last three games of the season, but neither one has shown any ability to be the Jets future starter, and can’t be trusted moving forward. Whether it’s singing a free agent, making a trade, or drafting a prospect early in the 2018 NFL Draft, its imperative that general manager Mike Maccagnan and company find a long-term option on the position sooner rather than later.
The Jets are not likely to get their hands on the top prospects in Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen with their No. 6 overall pick but there are other names that could be available that may be intriguing enough to take a shot on. Here are the top five quarterback options that make the most sense for the Jets.
Next: 5. Nick Foles
5. Kirk Cousins
Cousins has been the with the Redskins since 2012 when they drafted him in the fourth round and took Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick. He has been their starter since September of 2015 and will be a free agent this offseason. There has appeared to be a divide between Cousins and Washington’s front office who have been hesitant to sign him to a long-term contract despite his solid play over the past few seasons and is believed he will certainly explore the open market. San Francisco has been rumored to his destination, but with Jimmy Garoppolo now in the fold, they appear to be out of the running.
Its impossible to know whether the Jets front office would be willing to shell out the kind of money that Cousins is likely to get this offseason, which makes him the least likely choice. Cousins seems to be right in the middle of the top quarterbacks and the bottom level starters. While he will never be an elite level player, the question every GM looking for a quarterback next season will be asking is whether he’s going to be enough to win a lot of football games with or not.
Cousins has put up some pretty impressive stats since taking over for RGII as the Redskins full-time starter but has seemed to fail in the biggest moments. Last year it was against the New York Giants in Week 17 with a playoff spot on the line, and two years ago it was in the Divisional round against the Green Bay Packers. Investing in Cousins would be a huge commitment with a lot of risks attached but he would easily be their best quarterback the Jets have had in forever.
Next: 4. Josh Allen
4. Josh Allen
Josh Allen may be the most tantalizing prospect in this year’s draft class. At 6-5, Allen has the perfect height for an NFL quarterback and can beat you with both his arm and his legs, which make him an extremely difficult matchup for almost any defense. The big question about Allen has nothing to do with his physical ability and more about where he went to school. Wyoming is not exactly known as a quarterback factory, but we’ve seen players come from small schools and thrive at the next level.
Carson Wentz and Garappolo are two perfect examples. Both players came from small division 1 schools in North Dakota State and Eastern Illinois which don’t stack up against the likes of the SEC, Pac 12, Big 10, Big 12 or other major conferences but have had a fair amount of success in their early careers. Wentz especially, who was on pace to be in the MVP running before tearing his ACL in the beginning of December.
Wentz has a similar skill set to Allen and had many of the same questions coming out about where he played his college ball at. Allen’s play took a step backward from his 2016 season, but a lot of that was due to losing many of his top playmakers and weapons.
He also dealt with a shoulder injury that kept him out for a few weeks at the end of the season but returned in time for his team’s bowl game against Central Michigan and showcased his skill set brilliantly. Allen completed 11 of his 19 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. If he falls to them at No. 6, the Jets should strongly consider taking the Wyoming product who has the talent to be a game changer at the next level and be the answer to their long-awaited search for a franchise quarterback.
Next: 3. Nick Foles
3. Nick Foles
I personally love this one and hope it happens. However, since Foles is under contract until after the 2019 season, the Jets will need to enter a bidding war with other teams in order to acquire his services. The question then becomes what your willing to give up to acquire a player like Foles. To me, a second-round pick and possibly one in the later rounds (5-7) should be enough to get the deal done. Of course, it also depends on what other teams around the league are willing to give up. Luckily for the Jets, they have two second-round picks in this year’s draft so parting ways with one would certainly be feasible.
After his remarkable 2013 season in which he threw 27 touchdown passes to just two interceptions, Foles was considered one of the best upcoming players in the league. After a few tumultuous seasons in 2014 and 2015 (one with the Rams where QB’s went to fail prior to Jared Goff), Foles had his career put on hold and has been a back up the last two seasons. Last year with Kansas City, and this year back where it all began with the Philadelphia Eagles.
However, now that Wentz was out for the season with a torn ACL, Foles will once again have an opportunity to showcase his skills to the league and try and show that he can be a starting quarterback in the NFL. Foles has plenty of weapons at his disposal and is in the perfect position to succeed. He takes over an 11-2 team that is the favorite by many to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl and if he can play well and lead the Eagles on a deep playoff run, he will certainly give himself a chance to start somewhere come next season.
In the right system with the right coaching and the proper talent around him I believe Foles can be a championship-caliber quarterback, and someone the Jets should absolutely take a chance on in the offseason. Due to his prior struggles, Foles is unlikely to command the type of money on the open market that Cousins is. With a budding star in Robby Anderson, a steady target in Jermaine Kearse, and Austin Seferian-Jenkins at tight end, the Jets may not have the explosive offensive talent that the Eagles boast, but should have enough to intrigue Foles especially if he’s guaranteed an opportunity to start.
Next: 2. Lamar Jackson
2. Lamar Jackson
The Louisville quarterback may be one of the most tantalizing prospects coming into this year’s draft. At 6-3 he can both run and beat you from the pocket. The only real question about Jackson will be whether or not he can sustain the number of hits he’s bound to take as a runner. NFL teams always like pure pocket passers better due simply to the injury risk that comes with a player like Jackson, which is why Darnold, Rosen, Allen and possibly even Baker Mayfield will hear their name called before he does.
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The Jets at this point in time hold the No. 6 overall pick and with Darnold, Rosen, Allen, and possibly even Mayfield ranked higher on most draft boards, Jackson will more than likely be available for the Jets.
This may intrigue them because they would not have to trade up and perhaps mortgage their future in order to get their franchise quarterback. Much like with Cousins, nobody on the outside knows how the Jets front office feels about Jackson and whether or not he can be their quarterback of the future.
However, with the sixth overall pick, the pressure to hit on your draft pick is greater than the teams picking at the bottom of the round. After intense scouting and seeing everything that Jackson brings to the table, he could very well be that game-changing quarterback they need to push the envelope on offense for many years to come. Yes, it might be too risky but Jackson has incredible talent and would bring a much-needed jolt to the position.
Next: 1. Baker Mayfield
1. Baker Mayfield
Much like Allen, Baker Mayfield is another quarterback prospect who will be generating a lot of buzz come this year’s draft. A tantalizing personality, Mayfield has an interesting skill set that makes for a great debate as to wether or not his game will translate to the next level.
Listed at 6-1 Mayfield is smaller than most NFL quarterbacks which have raised some eyebrows about whether he can sustain the wear and tear of the NFL game. Mayfield has a strong arm and the ability to escape when the pocket collapses and make plays with his legs. An emotional player who always plays with a chip on his shoulder, Mayfield’s moxie has oftentimes proven to get him into trouble.
This past season against Kansas, the Oklahoma quarterback had an incident where he grabbed his crotch and made inappropriate gestures towards the crowd. As a result, Mayfield did not start the following week and was also not named a captain which he said was the biggest gut punch of all. This shows the competitiveness that Mayfield has and his desire to lead his team to victory. But in the NFL, a team leader but he must be able to tamper his emotions in order to be a consistent winner.
Mayfield could bring too many distractions to the Jets but if the other top guns are off the board, he should be considered an option. If they have done their homework and believe that his raw talent can develop into a winning player, they may want to pull the trigger and see if they can catch lightning in a bottle.