Make no mistake about it, this is the most important week in the history of the New York Jets. They have a golden opportunity to make some major headlines for all the right reasons and bring back hope to a losing franchise.
So, the NFL’s answer to the Miss Congeniality Pagent is underway. It’s not a full-fledged beauty contest because every player mentioned as a probable or potential target has visible warts. Minus their flaws, they wouldn’t be available on the open market. Many of the names are familiar to New York Jets fans but are overpaid considering their output. Some young players have not been given a full chance to display their skills, but seem to offer intriguing potential. Still, others have only a year or two of productivity left – but possess the kind of veteran leadership that could push a team over the top. And then, there is the small group of real or imagined difference makers (hello Kirk Cousins).
Who lands where will likely be decided first, by money, followed not far behind by the aggressiveness of teams in pursuit of their prey. Then of course there is the opportunity to start and, finally, by the persuasiveness of head and position coaches. The Jets haven’t coveted another team’s starting QB since they, unfortunately, chased and caught Neil O’Donnell in 1996.
The media says that Cousins is the Jets’ foremost target, which is exciting to hear because the Jets desperately need a high-caliber quarterback. But at the same time, everyone is becoming overheated about him is something of a distraction because the team has so many needs to fill if it is to become a serious playoff contender.
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I have a gut feeling that Cousins is coming to New York (because Drew Brees may be making himself available and would constitute a less costly, short-term solution for Minnesota, the Jets’ leading competition). But if he goes someplace else, what’s the backup plan? I like combining Teddy Bridgewater (the doctors know best about him), Josh McCown and one of the likely top three QBs in the draft. Even if they get Cousins, a veteran backup is needed.
Should that happen, the immediate focus has to turn to receivers for Cousins to throw to. Even that is no sure thing because whoever the Jets QB is, he will want to know for darn sure who will be protecting his health and safety. So, at least two offensive linemen seem in order (a center and tackle).
And, at long last, is there an outside pass rusher out there and is he willing to take the Jets’ cash and considerations? What about a starting corner, middle linebacker, and tight end if general manager Mike MacCagnan can’t renew Morris Claiborne, Demario Davis or Austin Seferian-Jenkins?
There is no shortage of tough decisions for Maccagnan, but that is what he was hired to do, so the next few days will easily make or break his tenure as GM. This is not only the most important week in franchise history for the Jets but time to prove what Maccagnan is capable of doing in rebuilding towards being contenders again. It won’t be easy but win free agency and things will be much easier down the road.