Jets QB Situation: Who Will Lead the Big Apple in 2018?
Another year, another Jets QB controversy. It is quite sad how the Jets as a franchise have yet to have a QB start for 12+ games for more than three seasons (aside from the Dirty Sanchez era) since 1991 with Ken O’Brien. In the last five years, the Jets have had to suffer with Geno Smith for two seasons, Ryan Fitzpatrick for another two, before the wise journeyman Josh McCown took over the reins this past season. This year is shaping out to be the most opportune time for the Jets to move forward with a franchise QB and their options are not limited either so who will be the one leading gang green next year? Let’s look at the QB class of free agency/draft day to see who is best fit for the Jets franchise.
The most sought after QB that is available in free agency in recent memory, Kirk Cousins is not only a bonafide franchise QB but is arguably a top 12 QB in today’s NFL. Rich Ciimini recently reported that not only the Jets are interested but that they are “willing to pay whatever it takes” to land the Redskins QB. Cousins was franchised tagged for the past two seasons by the Redksins and had a guarantee of just under $24 Mill this past year and with posting yet another good season chucking up 27TD and only 13 INT while throwing for over 4,000 yards, he will be due at least that much this coming offseason. We can expect a contract in the neighborhood of Matt Stafford, Derek Carr and the newcomer Jimmy Garrapolo to make Kirk the highest paid QB in the NFL. The Jets are clearly the biggest buyers in the free agent market with over $70 Mill in available cap space, and that number is expected to increase as we get closer to free agency. What makes this hard is Cousins’ desire to win. Cousins has come out and said he wants to be on a team that not only has a good defense but to be in a position to win now and the Jets are still in a rebuild mode. Although the Jets can point to their past season as a “win” in their eyes because of their bottom feeder expectations, Kirk most likely isn’t getting giddy over the 5 win season. Cousins would definitely bolster their team and be the best QB in their division in the coming future with the exit of Tom Brady upon us but the Jets have holes on nearly every spot of their team. Todd Bowles is a defensive oriented coach who gets a lot out of his players but I do not think Captain Kirk has any passion to take a team from zero to hero anytime soon. They say money can’t buy happiness but with murmurs of the Jets being able to fully guarantee his entire contract, Cousins may not be able to pass up the offer.
The QB Draft Class
There may not be a clear cut number one for this upcoming draft but there are as many as 5 possible QB’s slated to be drafted in the 1st round of this year’s draft. The Jets are slotted as the #6 pick (for now) and are seemingly lined up to be drafting their next franchise QB, pending no free agency signing. The issue at hand for the Jets is that there is 3 teams above them that are also on the QB hunt for the future of their franchise. The Browns, Giants and Broncos all draft ahead of them and until the Kirk Cousins sweepstakes are over, they are all threats to draft a QB ahead of the Big Apple. Josh Rosen is believed to be the cream of crop out of the draft class, Rosen had a shaky final season at UCLA but is said to be the best pure/pocket passer out of the draft. Sam Darnold is coming in second for this QB class but had a mediocre season for his standards but managed to use his powerful arm to lead USC to nine straight wins to end the season. The buzz around Darnold is that he lacks decision making skills and zones in on his target for far too long but apparently has those important ‘intangibles’ that still make him a possibility to be the first pick in this year’s draft. Next up we have the Big Ben comparison in Josh Allen out of Wyoming. After an impressive display at this year’s Senior Bowl, Allen has locked himself for a top 10 draft pick with many teams needing a franchise guy moving forward but will need some developing in order to use his big body and powerful arm to the best of its capabilities. Baker Mayfield from Oklahoma, the reigning Heisman winner is also in conversation to land in the top 10 of the draft with a lot of interest coming from the GM of the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield’s concerns lie in his size, footwork and ability to transfer his college skills to the pro level where he will have to play under center. Mayfield has shown some superb talent in ball placement as well as ability to prolong plays with his legs and having the attitude you desire in your franchise player but his height and lack of experience running a NFL like offense will his impede his draft stock, in my opinion he is the most interesting QB of this draft with gaining some praise being compared to Russell Wilson. Lamar Jackson, being deemed as the taller right handed Michael Vick is some valuable hype leading up to draft day for the Louisville product. His biggest flaw lies in his accuracy where he has exhibited some problems in leading receivers and overall ball striking but because the team revolved around him, it was not the biggest concern for the Cardinals. Jackson may go in the top 10 or may fall out of the 1st round, it depends if a team is willing to cater their offense around Jackson moving forward because an NFL offense will not work for a player of his style.
The Minnesota Vikings QB’s
The Vikings created quite the dilemma after reaching the NFC championship this year with currently not rostering even one QB for the 2018-2019 season. Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford are all set out to be free agents this offseason but we must believe at least one will be picked up by the Vikings before training camp. I think after the incredible run that Keenum was able to lead this year, it will be hard not to bring him back unless they are the winners of the Kirk Cousin’s bidding war. Keenum might be a one hit wonder, but showed some great strides in being a NFL starter by posting 22TD to only 7INT in the 15 games he started while coming up one game short in the playoffs after the miraculous “Minneapolis Miracle”. So this leaves Teddy Bridgewater and the Band-Aid that is Sam Bradford, many are under the impression that one of these QB’s will be brought back if another team cannot guarantee them a starting role but the Jets are one of those teams. Teddy Bridgewater had essentially two seasons on the IR because of his gruesome knee injury where there was concern for his career as a whole, but he saw the field this year for one drive so it is good to see he is battling to comeback in this league. Sam Bradford looked like the Sam Bradford everyone remembered from his first overall selection in 2010, but again the injury bug got to Bradford which opened the door to Keenum. Despite the near career ending injury, I think Teddy Bridgewater should be higher on people’s radar. He has been a starter in this league with the Vikings before his injury where he notched 32 total TD in 29 games while having a completion % north of 64% in both seasons as a starter which would be the highest % for a Jets QB (aside from McCown this past year) since the Chad Pennington days. Sam Bradford quietly had a great 2016 campaign with the Vikings throwing for 20TD and only 5INT in Teddy’s absence before getting injured after playing lights out in week 1 this past season against the Saints. I think the Jets should not forget about either of these two play callers, and should pay even more attention to Keenum if Cousins lands in Minneapolis.
McCarron, set to turn 28 this year, has been in the league for 4 seasons and has not even attempted 135 passes yet. Despite this stat, he is being viewed as this year’s Mike Glennon and is gaining some traction as a possible free agent starter to be signed by a QB needy team like the Jets. His contract would be along the likes of Glennon’s last year which clearly did not pay off for the Bears but I do not think the Bears forecasted to take Trubisky until after the signing of Glennon so that is a bit of a different case. McCarron’s sample size is even a bit shaky, he has only 10 games to his name, with some not even playing a full game. McCarron has been the backup plan to the Ginger Goblin that is Andy Dalton for four consecutive seasons and with Marvin Lewis’ love for the goblin, he has yet to see the field as the team’s starter. McCarron’s career stats sound something like this: 10 games played, 64.7 completion %, 6 TD, 2 INT, 920 yards, QBR of 93.6 and 1 smoking hot wife (Google Katherine Webb, thank me later). Although I think McCarron can be brought in and be the day 1 starter of the Jets or at least observe a few games with a clipboard in his hand before taking over for McCown, I am very skeptical to say the least about McCarron’s future in the NFL. If you cannot beat out Andy Dalton for even one game over the last four seasons where Andy Dalton has only thrown over 3,400 yards just once (2016), then I do not know how you can be confident in McCarron leading you to the promise land anytime soon. If the Jets choose to go down this route, I think they will horribly regret it and McCown would not only be a better fit but be cheaper on the books in comparison to McCarron.
I think the Jets have made it clear they are gunning for the gunslinger Captain Kirk Cousins but due to vividly clear desires of ‘winning’, I think money cannot even buy his time. I see Kirk landing in either Denver or Minnesota where both teams become immediate division contenders, even contenders in their respective conferences. We should not sleep on the QB situation of Minnesota, where I think Case Keenum becomes a very intriguing option if the Skol chanters do not decide to resign him but even Teddy and Bradford are options that would suffice for the Jets. I think if Teddy Bridgewater becomes an option on the open market, we will hear more rumblings of the Jets’ interest in the Vikings current backup whereas, Bradford is too big of an injury liability for the Jets to invest into with their lack of talent at the position. Therefore I think the Jets will try and get it right on draft day, I think if Rosen can fall to them at 6, the Jets would be silly not to take him. If Rosen does not fall to them, there has been rumors swirling around that Baker Mayfield is exactly what New York needs and can learn from Josh McCown until the Jets feel ready to make him their everyday guy. I am excited to see what the Jets do this coming off season but one thing is for certain, the QB position is step one of 1001, and the Jets will need to put better pieces around their QB of the future if they wish to succeed before 3018.