The New York Jets made some important moves in free agency and capped it off with an even bigger move to move up in the 2018 NFL Draft. Plan B has so far been the best option at quarterback for the Jets.
As free agency kicked off with the “legal tampering” period earlier this week, New York Jets fans had to feel like a child on Christmas morning. General manager Mike Maccagnan woke up fresh and ready to go with ~$90 million to spend. Kirk Cousins was right there for the taking ready to ride in on his white horse and save the day for Jets Nation, all for the price of right around $30 million a year.
Subsequently, the push notification heard around the tri-state appeared on our smartphones that Cousins would be visiting with the Minnesota Vikings. He would not leave the building. Cousins ended up signing a fully guaranteed three-year $84 million deal. While many were up in arms about this, Maccagnan had to go with a Plan B.
Yes, Cousins would have been a great addition. That being said, we need to ask ourselves some questions. Who would have been the talent around him? Who was he throwing to? Who was blocking for him? The writing was on the wall (in my opinion) for Cousins not signing with the Jets early Tuesday morning when Allen Robinson and Weston Richburg agreeing to their deals with the Chicago Bears and San Francisco 49ers, respectively.
The way Plan B is shaking out still requires patience amongst the fan base and team personnel alike, but will be best for the overall long-term health of the franchise. When the Vikings come to MetLife Stadium this season, Jets fans should not treat Cousins with any more animosity than they would any other NFC visitor. The Vikings are ready to compete. They have pieces in place ready to contend for a Super Bowl championship.
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If Cousins signed on the dotted line for the Jets, he would be treading water. There would be fewer pieces for him to work with and less money throughout the duration of the contract for him to be able to get weapons for him to work with and protection in place.
The Jets have now spent money on many pieces integral to their continuing rebuild. Over the past few days, the Jets have welcomed LB Avery Williamson, CB Trumaine Johnson, HB Isaiah Crowell, OL Spencer Long, QB Teddy Bridgewater, and have re-signed QB Josh McCown as well as CB Morris Claiborne.
Moving forward, the Jets still have a lot of cap space to work with as of this writing— $63,611,171– (according to overthecap.com) to sign free agents. [NOTE: This number will most certainly change as the website updates, but the Jets will nonetheless still have a robust amount of money to play with for the remainder of the offseason and even roll over to 2019.]. Regardless of what the updated official figure is, there is still room for the Jets to make more noise this offseason.
In spite of all the Jets have done through free agency, this is not the time of year where a general manager earns his keep. That will come at the end of next month during the 2018 NFL Draft. Mike Maccagnan has earned the confidence of ownership (as shown by his recent contract extension) but make no mistake, he has to hit a home run in the draft. He started it off wisely by trading up in this year’s draft from the No. 6 overall pick to No. 3, most likely to get the Jets their next franchise quarterback and having that player be developed all of next season under McCown/Bridgewater.
Discounting McCown and his role, they used the money available to them on players in their mid-20’s. This was a far cry from when they spent on older veterans like Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Ryan Fitzpatrick a couple of years ago.
Even with the active season, the Jets have had so far, we are just witnessing another step of the rebuild. Although there is still tremendous uncertainty on both sides of the football, this process is and will continue to be a slow crawl. Among other positions, wide receiver, edge rusher, and offensive line are still in need of better talent.
While the Jets are hoping Bridgewater can deliver, he was signed in a way that could maximize his earnings to $15 million. Either way, it is imperative that the Jets draft a quarterback in the first round considering their recent blockbuster move in order to get their guy. If Bridgewater plays well enough to earn every cent of that $15 million, nobody would complain. In fact, Bridgewater playing lights out with a 1st round quarterback waiting in the wings is a fantastic problem to have.
The Jets are going in the right direction. They are not where they need to be yet, but they may not be done making moves. If Maccagnan hits on his targeted players, this could be a team we will have fun watching this year and for many more after it.