Dalbin Osorio – For acquiring Phillip RiversNew York Jets General Manager Mike Maccagnan has been on the job for a little over two months and the retooling of the roster has been swift. Chris Johnson, Percy Harvin, and Michael Vick (arguably three of John Idzik’s more high profile moves) are gone. Following them out of the door are Dawan Landry and Kyle Wilson, two of the last remnants of former Head Coach Rex Ryan’s regime. Replacing them are Brandon Marshall, Ryan Fitzpatrick, James Carpenter, Marcus Gilchrist, and cornerbacks Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine.
Maccagnan has operated like a man with a plan and coupled with new Head Coach Todd Bowles, have made moves designed to end a four year playoff drought. You don’t trade for a 31 year old perennial Pro Bowl wide receiver, a veteran backup QB, or sign three high quality cornerbacks to address your second biggest need if you had no intention of trying to win now. Maccagnan and Bowles, despite their lack of Ryan-like proclamations, see an opening in the AFC East and possibly the AFC.
With New England losing Revis and Brandon Browner, with the changes in Denver, it is possible that the Jets have a window they didn’t have two months ago. No one is proclaiming Brady and Company dead by they way, in fact, I still believe the road through the AFC runs through New England, but the Jets have drastically changed their team makeup in two months and still have the NFL Draft. Some have speculated that that is where theu will look to address their biggest need: the lack of a franchise quarterback. It is possible that the Jets view Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota as the best contenders to fill that void. Do they turn to the draft for their signal caller? Yes, but not in the way you think.
The Jets need to trade for Philip Rivers. They are armed with the 6th and 37th picks overall in the draft, which gives them the ammunition to do exactly that. Rivers, entering the final year of his contract, has already stated that he intends to play out his deal instead of signing a new deal with the Chargers this offseason. There are rumors circulating pre-draft that the Chargers are enamored with Marcus Mariota. Rivers could be available and Mike Maccagnan needs to be the General Manager that trades for him. Rivers is coming off an MVP caliber season in which he threw for 4,286 yards, 31 touchdowns, and completed almost 67% of his passes.This was his ninth straight season completing at least 60% of his passes and the sixth time in seven seasons he’s thrown for over 4,000 yards. Over that time span, the Jets QBs have only hit the 60% completion mark twice and have never gone over 4,000 yards. Rivers would be the best quarterback the Jets have had in ten years. Yes, Rivers right now is better than Favre was when the Jets pulled off the trade for him. Some will argue that he doesn’t fit in Chan Gailey’s offense, but Gailey was able to turn Fitzpatrick and Tyler Thigpen into 3,000+ yard passers. What do you think he could do with Rivers? Some will also say that the Jets should draft a stud offensive lineman. You know how you cover up issues on the offensive line? Get a quarterback that gets rid of the ball quick and accurately. Beyond the statistics, the overall fit and undeniable ability, what Rivers brings to the Jets is credibility at the most important position in the game.
Rivers has an attitude, an almost defiant cockiness, that has rubbed fans and other players alike the wrong way. On a team that just went 4-12, don’t you need that? Don’t you need a QB that believes his team can win every game? A QB that has shown a consistent ability to get the ball into the hands of his play makers accurately and decisively? A QB that made a star out of a tight end like Antonio Gates? A QB that has elevated his game and won in the playoffs and who is hungry to get back to that level of play and to win a Super Bowl like the other two quarterbacks drafted in the first round with him?
Some people will scoff at what the Chargers asking price would most likely be, make no mistake, it will take the first and second round picks the Jets own to trade for a guy that was the league’s MVP during the first half of the season last year. An argument could be made that the Jets would be better suited continuing to add pieces with those two picks and having Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick competing for the starting job until they can address the QB position next year. There is no player in this draft that would turn the Jets from a possible wild card contender to a Super Bowl contender this season like Philip Rivers would. It is a win now move that puts the Jets squarely in the discussion with New England and Denver as contenders in the AFC. Rivers is due $15.75 million this coming season and is scheduled to become a free agent the year after. Maccagnan, and to a bigger extent Rod Graves, have done a good job of structuring the contracts doled out this off-season and they would have to do the same with Rivers should they trade for him. Trading for a franchise quarterback in his prime, especially when they don’t always become available, is a move you make and don’t look back.
Cole Patterson – Against acquiring Phillip RiversAs Dalbin made evident, the New York Jets offseason activity to this point has been indicative of a team loading up for an immediate run. To that end, Maccagnan’s strategy of shedding over-the-hill role players for dynamic game changers (ala Revis, Cromartie, and Marshall) has dramatically improved the overall talent on the roster. Adding less impactful but capable players like Skrine, Gilchrist, and Carpenter has further patched holes. With no pressing needs on the roster (outside of quarterback…foreshadowing) the Jets are in a good position to draft BPA.
As Maccagnan said, the Jets off season acquisitions to date have been but “one small step in a big process.” This coming from the man who, only a few days into the league year and with a number of high profile acquisitions to his name, was at Marcus Mariota’s pro day. Clearly, through both his words and his actions, Maccagnan views the draft as a invaluable tool for his team.
At this point, it is clear that Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota will likely not be available at number six for the Jets. However, the top of this draft is loaded with talent. Dante Fowler, Randy Gregory, Vic Beasley, La’El Collins, Amari Cooper, and Kevin White all have a shot to fall to Gang Green. This is what you would be passing up to acquire Rivers.
There is little doubt that a Pro Bowl quarterback, a franchise quarterback, would demand a high price. The sixth pick in the draft fits the bill. Too pass up on one of the aforementioned blue chip players, for anything short of a sure thing, would be ludicrous. Phillip Rivers is far from a sure thing.
Dalbin cites Rivers’ 2014 season in a vacuum. His previous two seasons were underwhelming. Yes he was able to rebound this season but, at 33, how long can he maintain that trajectory? Are his down years more indicative of what the Jets should expect?
Even if he gave you two or three years like his 2014 season, what does that do for the Jets? Rivers had many outstanding seasons surrounded by talents like LaDanian Tomlinson, Antonio Gates, and Vincent Jackson. How many Conference Championships does he have to his name? Moreover, how many playoff victories?
To make a move for Rivers would be to sacrifice the future for the present; sustainability for immediacy. Yes, the Jets have improved greatly. Yes, perhaps this creates an opportunity for them to make the playoffs. And yes, Maccagnan has made it clear he wants to win now. However, he has also preached sustainability and practicality. The contracts Maccagnan has doled out (accepting the outlier of Revis’) allow for him to pull the plug on a player if he underperforms. Again, through both his words and actions, Maccagnan has already answered your questions about Phillip Rivers. The Jets should not (and likely will not) sacrifice the future for the present.