New York Jets: Burning Free Agency Questions

Mike Donnelly breaks down the burning questions as the new York Jets enter 2015 NFL free agency

It is a new era in Jets football as new General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles look to turn this franchise around on-and-off the field. The fireworks started today with the trade to get Brandon Marshall, the expected release of Percy Harvin and re-signing of David Harris. Let’s get into the other burning questions…

1.) Let’s start with the biggest question of all. What’s up with the QB spot?

I don’t know.

2.) What do you mean you don’t know?

Well, I don’t think anybody knows what’s up with the Jets quarterback spot as of now, including Mike Maccagnan. I could see any number of scenarios unfolding when it comes to the 2015 starting QB, but here is my best guess: Geno Smith will be under center come week 1 after he beats out a veteran free agent signing such as Jake Locker (whom I like), Brian Hoyer (whom I don’t dislike), or Matt Moore (ugh). The thing to remember is that unlike with John Idzik, Maccagnan has no connection whatsoever to Geno Smith and he won’t hesitate to move on from him if presented with a better option. The problem is that there may not be any better options available this year in free agency, especially when you consider the three options I listed and our old friend Mark Sanchez represent the best of the bunch.

While I don’t love Geno Smith – and God knows he gave us plenty of reasons not to last season – I do believe that he has a chance to be at least an above average quarterback in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey’s spread-style offense. As I’m sure you know, Geno ran a similar kind of offense during his college days at West Virginia when he put up video game-type statistics, so there is reason to hope. Factor in that Geno closed out 2014 extremely well over the last four weeks and that Maccagnan is likely to bring in some more offensive talent this year to assist the quarterback, and, well, it could be worse.

3.) Well, what about the draft? Can we get Jameis or Mariota at 6?

It’s looking more and more likely that Jameis Winston is going to go #1 overall to Tampa Bay so I’m operating under the assumption he’s unavailable. Marcus Mariota is a different story, though, and it’s actually pretty likely that he will indeed be sitting there at 6 when the Jets get on the clock. Whether they take him, however, is a totally different story. Personally, I’m 50/50 on Mariota and I certainly wouldn’t mind if the Jets do call his name. I do think they have better routes they can go with the pick, though, (cough, pass rusher, cough) and if I had to guess, I would say they don’t take him.

4.) I heard the Eagles might try to trade up, how about we get Nick Foles then?

For the love of God, no. I don’t understand the Jets fans infatuation with average-at-best quarterbacks who play for other teams. Why do we keep glorifying these guys and hoping we get them? Every time a backup like Chase Daniel, Kirk Cousins, or Nick Foles pop up and have a good game, or in Foles’ case a good 3/4 of a season, Jets fans start pounding the table demanding we trade for them.

Here’s why it would be stupid to trade for Foles: First, he isn’t that good and is pretty clearly a product of Chip Kelly’s dangerous up-tempo offensive system where he was able to inflate his numbers in a big way. Let’s not forget that he wasn’t very good at all last year and Eagles fans were silently thrilled when Mark Sanchez (!!!) took over for him after his injury. Second, it’s going to require us trading out of the #6 overall pick. I know we would also get the Eagles first rounder and probably some other things, but it’s still not worth it at all to acquire a mediocre QB. Third, Foles is going to want a new contract if he gets traded and you’d end up committing decent money and a few years time to a guy who is, again, a mediocre quarterback. Fourth, this bears repeating: Nick. Foles. Is. Not. That. Good. No thanks.

5.) Speaking of Chan Gailey’s offense, CJ Spiller had some good years under him in Buffalo. Should we sign him?

Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Yes, and here is why. The running back position is so devalued and the market is so saturated that Spiller is not going to cost a lot to sign at all. If I thought he was going to break the bank or require a major guaranteed financial commitment, then I would be totally against signing him – or any RB for that matter. Even if the total numbers on the contract look big and fancy, I’d be shocked if it’s anything more than a two year deal with a reasonable amount of “real money”, something in the $4 million range per season, which is fine with me.

Also, that “good season” we mentioned, wasn’t just good. It was freaking awesome. That year he ran for 1,244 yards on just 207 carries (a ridiculous 6.0 average), and caught 43 passes for 459 yards, and 8 total TD’s. He’s a game-breaking RB with big-play ability and can do work in the passing game. Plus, he is a very good kick returner as well. The Jets need ALL of these things.

6.) What about Bilal Powell?

While I like Bilal Powell just as much as the next Jets fans, let’s be real here. Spiller is a better player, and we are in a position of luxury with the salary cap this year and can throw a few extra dollars at the position to ensure we get the better player. Powell doesn’t provide the big-play ability that Spiller does, and aside from one monster game in 2013 against an awful Buffalo run defense, he’s never really put together a great stretch in his career, amassing a 3.9 average overall through four seasons. He’s a terrific role player to have around, and it would be great if he stays on as the #3 RB, but with Chris Ivory’s injury history, I’d much rather have Spiller here ready to take on a big role. With money hardly an issue, I’d rather the better player who doubles up as a terrific kick returner too.

7.) How about we just draft a guy in the mid-rounds instead then?

I don’t think “just draft a guy” is a good alternative either, because the team has more important things to use their valuable draft picks on than a running back in the early rounds. I assume by saying mid-rounds, people mean 4th or 5th round because they say the draft is so deep at the position and everyone seems to think you can just plug and play an RB no matter what, so why burn an early pick, right? Well there are some problems with that logic to me. If we wanted to plug and play a 1st and 2nd down type RB who isn’t expected to pass-block or contribute as a receiver, then I would kind of agree. But that’s not what the Jets are looking for right now since we have Ivory in the fold.

Also, take a look at the RB’s draft the past few years in the 4th or 5th rounds. Last year the best of the bunch was I guess Devonta Freeman or Andre Williams, neither of which were big factors as rookies. Others included James White, Lorenzo Taliaferro, De’Anthony Thomas, and Ka’Deem Carey. Are those the guys you want playing big roles as rookies? How about the year before when guys like Johnathan Franklin and Stepfan Taylor were picked? You can’t just say “draft a guy” because chances are that guy won’t turn out to be much of a factor at all, and certainly not as big a factor as CJ Spiller could be.

8.) Can Tommy Bohanan recover from his injury to regain his form as an elite FB?

Just kidding, nobody is really asking this. I just wanted to make sure you were still paying attention.

9.) Should we cut Jeff Cumberland?

I’ve been asking this question for like four years now, and the answers is invariably “Yes”. This year, however, it makes even more sense than ever before because cutting him saves $1.9 million and also opens the door for Jace Amaro to play a featured role and play every down, which is really what should have been happening last year. It also allows the team to sign a legitimate blocking tight end to take his place and then we still have Zach Sudfeld on the team to provide an extra receiving option. Simple choice here, really.

10.) Should I take my Revis jersey out of storage and get ready to wear it again?

I can’t say if the Jets will bring back #24 or not, but when there’s smoke there’s fire, and by most accounts Woody Johnson realizes the error he made in letting the best Jets player since Namath walk away two years ago. It won’t be easy, and definitely won’t be cheap, but the Jets should absolutely, positively, 100%, no doubt about it make a Godfather-type offer to Darrelle Revis and bring him back to the green and white. 

I was totally against trading Revis two years ago, but when it happened, I talked myself into it and thought we did well getting the 1st and 4th round picks. I instantly turned on TEAM REVIS and rooted against him on the field every chance I got, especially when he signed with the evil, cheating, hated Patriots last year. I made jokes when he gave up catches and loved every time Richard Sherman proclaimed himself the best corner in the league. Then I felt like a piece of my soul died when I saw him hoist the Lombardi Trophy in a Patriots uniform. I’m angry just typing and reading that now, so I get why fans have a bitter taste in their mouths when it comes Darrelle, but the fact is, the guy is an amazing football player, and we should be so lucky to have him back patrolling the secondary. Who would be a better mentor for players like Dee Milliner, Dexter McDougle, and Calvin Pryor to learn from? Nobody. So yes, I would break the bank and use a gigantic chunk of our cap room this offseason to bring Revis home. It would be worth it. If LeBron can go home, so can you, Darrelle. I’ll even go out and buy a pair of your stupid Air Revis I’m Coming Home Nike’s or whatever they’ll be called… (no I won’t). 

12.) Anything else?

Yes, as a matter of fact, there is. I think Mo Wilkerson should get the long-term contract he deserves this offseason; I think a Guard (Orlando Franklin?) will be signed to bolster the offensive line; I think Kenrick Ellis and Leger Douzable are goners. I think a safety will be signed as well (Rahim Moore); and I think a pass rusher will be drafted at #6 overall. What does everyone else think?

Author: Mike Donnelly

Mike Donnelly is a Staff Writer and life-long Jets fan, who was previously a featured columnist at multiple other New York Jets and fantasy football websites. He lives and works in finance in the NYC area and will help lead our Jets and NFL coverage in 2013.