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It has been an uneven (at best) few years for Mike Maccagnan as the New York Jets GM. However, he has a huge weekend coming up where he will have an opportunity to both improve the Jets roster in the short term at certain positions and their roster building potential long term. Here are moves the team should consider this coming weekend (NOTE: these are not necessarily predictions as to what will happen but rather a suggested strategy).
1 – Trade Sheldon – Right now the Buffalo Bills have eight picks in the first four rounds of the 2018 NFL Draft and the Jets have eight overall picks. The Cleveland Browns have 13 total picks. The San Francisco 49ers have nine total picks with five in the first three rounds. This team still needs to compile more assets in the NFL Draft and their best route to it is moving Sheldon Richardson.
Jets fans have underwent a fascinating ping pong of opinions on Muhammad Wilkerson and Richardson over the past few years. In 2014, John Idzik was an idiot for not paying Wilkerson and Richardson was a future Defensive Player of the Year. In 2015, it was demanded that Maccagnan paid Wilkerson, while skepticism of Richardson grew after his suspension and arrest. Heading into 2016, everyone wanted to pay Wilkerson and trade Sheldon. Now, after a big preseason, everyone wants to pay Sheldon and cut Wilkerson at the end of the year or trade him.
Let’s get a reality check: If you think Maccagnan is trading away the defensive end he just paid nearly 100 million dollars to less than 2 years ago over the defensive end the last GM drafted, you are crazy. Second, let’s not forget Richardson has 6.5 sacks over the past two years compared to 6 games suspended. The Jets do not need to be paying him near a 100 million dollar contract this offseason. Enough investing in 3-4 defensive ends! The Jets are also not going to get a compensatory pick if they let him walk this offseason because they are going to spend too much themselves in free agency. Maccagnan has been sitting on his hands with this deal for over a year. Pull the damn trigger and start compiling middle round picks for more flexibility in the 2018 NFL Draft.
2 – Keep Trading – It is hard to say if the Jets have any other players with legitimate trade value on their roster. If they take on some of Matt Forte’s 4 million dollars, they may be able to move him for a late round pick. If so, do it. If you can get somebody, anybody to give up late round picks for Marcus Williams (currently the 5th or 6th CB on the depth chart), Steve McLendon or Buster Skrine…do it. There is nobody on this roster who is untouchable right now, outside of Leonard Williams, Robby Anderson or the 2017 draft picks. Nobody loves Bilal Powell more than me but if a running back hungry team would offer a middle round pick for him? You need to consider it.
3 – Take A QB Swing – It is unlikely to happen but the Jets should waive Christian Hackenberg and see if they can get him back on their practice squad. In the meantime, take a flier on a player like Garrett Grayson, Jacoby Brissett or Joe Callahan if they are released. Call Green Bay and see if they are interested in a Brent Hundley for Sheldon Richardson swap. Explore any and all young quarterbacks who might be available. Take a dart throw, start him a few games this year and maybe you will find something.
4 – Sell Low, Buy Upside – Let’s use linebacker for example, don’t we know what Bruce Carter and Spencer Paysinger are by this point? Release journeyman players in their late 20s and see if you can find younger players, who were higher draft picks that did not fit in their current situation. The backups should have higher upside than players like Carter or Paysinger.
5 – Admit Mistakes – The hardest thing for any GM or front office to do. Lorenzo Mauldin has not earned a roster spot. Do not give him one. Christian Hackenberg has not earned a router spot, do not give him one if a better third string quarterback option presents itself. If you can get your hands on Sammie Coates, Dontrelle Inman or Jermaine Kearse, do not hesitate to release Charone Peake. If a better young punter becomes available, release Lachlan Edwards. There can be no given spots because a player was drafted by this regime.
6 – Prioritize Premium – The Jets need to take a long took at the premium positions: tackle, pass rusher, cornerback and quarterback. They already started this process by bringing in Kony Ealy. Keep hammering away at these positions, particularly with players under 26. Nobody cares if you are turning over your backup safeties or long snappers. Narrow the focus as much as possible to critical positions.
7 – Align Messaging – Whether it is the quarterback position, why certain veterans are traded or released or anything else that comes up, make sure the messaging is clear between Maccagnan and Todd Bowles. Do not throw Bowles up there in another situation where he is blindsided by a transaction and has no feasible explanation for it.
8 – Keep Your Picks – Do not trade away draft picks for veterans. Do not trade away draft picks for veterans. Do no trade away draft picks for veterans. Operation “we build through the draft” has already been slowed by handing picks out for Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, Ryan Clady, Zac Stacy and DeVier Posey, none of whom are on the team right now.
9 – Special Teams – Despite signing Chandler Catanzaro this offseason, do not hesitate to give the job to Ross Martin who has beat him out thus far. Do not stop the search for a difference maker in the return game. Frankie Hammond and Marcus Murphy have not shown enough to have a lock on the position.
10 – Find A Fullback – If the Jets are going to be as run heavy as we expect them to be, it would behoove them to scour the market and find a player with a little experience at the position. Julian Howsare (a converted LB) and Anthony Firkser (a UDFA rookie) have shown basically nothing this preseason.
11 – Be Cautious – This is for tonight in the meaningless game against the Eagles. Play Josh McCown 1-2 series maximum and get him out of the game to let Christian Hackenberg finish. Do not push a semi-injured Bryce Petty on the field. Do not play Bilal Powell. Do not play Robby Anderson more than one series. The same goes for the starting defensive line, rookie safeties and Darron Lee.
12 – Reminder –
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— Joe Caporoso (@JCaporoso) August 30, 2017
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com