The NY Jets Monday Mailbag is back and better than ever! Well, maybe not better, but it most certainly is back.
After a long-awaited absence — it’s been nearly six months (!) — one of my personal favorites article series that we run here on The Jet Press is back and I couldn’t be more excited.
The Jets are set for what should be a long, eventful offseason full of roster turnover, culture overhaul, and plenty of rumors. And with rumors come lots and lots of questions.
Thank you to each of you that has submitted a question or even just tuned in to read — your efforts are always greatly appreciated.
Just a brief reminder since it’s been a while — if you’d like to submit a question for the mailbag make sure to follow us on Twitter (@TheJetPress) and be on the lookout for when we ask for submissions. Typically, they’ll be sent out on Sundays.
As for this week’s edition, the questions primarily focused on the team’s quarterback situation. Something that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the current state of the franchise.
Would the NY Jets give Sam Darnold competition?
“Would they sign a QB to compete with [Sam] Darnold?” via @nysportsfan113 on Twitter
If the Jets do ultimately decide to stick with Sam Darnold — something that seems increasingly unlikely by the day — I can’t imagine they’d go into the year without the former USC star as their top quarterback.
The smart move, both financially and logistically, is to move on from Darnold. But if the Jets truly feel they could salvage his career in Mike LaFleur’s system, they’ll want to make sure they go all-in on Darnold.
That means adding pieces in free agency and the 2021 NFL Draft to make his life as easy as possible. Essentially, eliminating the variables that could cloud their analysis of Darnold.
If the Jets pass on the likes of Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, and even Trey Lance at No. 2 overall, that would mean they still believe in Darnold. Thus, adding a veteran quarterback to “compete” just wouldn’t be logical.
They’d need some insurance for sure, especially given that Darnold has failed to play an entire season in his NFL career. But I can’t foresee a scenario where they bring in someone to compete with him.
Either Darnold’s the guy you’re building around in 2021 or you replace him. You can’t have it both ways.
How do the NY Jets build around Deshaun Watson?
“Say [the] Jets trade for Watson with the price of at least 3 1’s and maybe another pick or two. How does [Joe] Douglas build the team if his coveted draft picks are sent to get a QB? Really have to hit on the draft picks you make in the lower rounds. Disclaimer: they should get the QB.” via @darthzach7 on Twitter
This is a question that’s commonly been posed by many in the anti-Watson-trade community. The belief is that if the Jets shell out a ton of draft capital for Watson, they wouldn’t be able to properly build around him.
And to that, I have two things to say. One, you don’t understand how many assets the Jets have. And two, you don’t understand how valuable Watson is.
The Jets have five first-round picks over the next three years. They have two third-rounders in 2021 as well as pick No. 34. Assuming they give up three of those first-round picks, perhaps even another high pick, they’d still be left with enough draft capital.
Say a mock trade scenario was the No. 2 pick, the No. 34 pick, a 2022 first-rounder, and a 2023 first-rounder — just as a baseline. They’d still have a first-round pick in both 2021 and 2022 to help build a roster.
Not to mention, the most important variable that some are overlooking, the Jets are set to have perhaps upward to $100 million in cap space once cuts occur. In a year in which the cap is expected to shrink, that’s an absurd amount of money.
Watson’s cap hit in 2021 is just over $10 million (essentially the same as Darnold’s) meaning that they’ll have plenty of money to add pieces. The roster is also further along than many seem to realize.
You have two starting-caliber receivers in Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder and an offensive line that was below-average in pass protection but actually above-average in run blocking a year ago.
The roster isn’t as bare a many seem to believe, regardless of the Jets’ record in 2020. Wins are not a direct reflection of overall talent. The Jets roster isn’t good, but they have the assets, even with a Watson trade, to build around him.
Watson changes everything. If it takes 3+ first-round picks to land him. You do it, no questions asked.
What do the NY Jets do at running back?
“What do you see the plans being for running back?” via @dcaufield12 on Twitter
We end with a non-QB question for a change.
The plan for the Jets’ backfield seems rather straightforward at this point. You bring back the likes of Ty Johnson, La’Mical Perine, and Josh Adams, sign a capable veteran in free agency to a rather cheap deal, and roll with the committee approach.
Johnson and Adams impressed in limited action last year and should return to compete for roster spots. Johnson, in particular, is someone I could see breaking out in 2021 due to his fit in Mike LaFleur’s system.
If LaFleur’s running game is anything like Kyle Shanahan’s, Johnson could fill that Raheem Mostert role given his outside speed and decisive running style. Johnson is a perfect fit in an outside-zone run offense that emphasizes speed and vision.
Perine will be back, but he’ll need to show more than he did in his rookie season to warrant a spot on the depth chart above Johnson and maybe even Adams.
Veterans the Jets could sign include the likes of Jamaal Williams, Malcolm Brown, Kenyan Drake, and even Marlon Mack assuming the medicals check out.
Williams is probably the most intriguing of those names given his pass-catching ability, but it would be worthwhile to check in on any of them. Don’t rule out someone like Tevin Coleman or Jerick McKinnon either given their experience with LaFleur.
Expect a committee approach in 2021. But look for Ty Johnson to be the breakout star.