New York Jets – 2018 Offseason Mailbag, January Quarterback Edition

Joe Caporoso with a Twitter mailbag of your most common offseason questions heading into 2018 free agency and the NFL Draft

Welcome to our first offseason mailbag. In these monthly articles, I am going to take an example of a common question I receive on Twitter and give a more fleshed out answer than I can give in 140…err, 280 characters. The focus of today’s questions are going to be on the quarterback position (WHAT ELSE?). Thanks for the interactions, as always.

Bridgewater seems to be fairly popular among Jets fans, who are shy about investing big money in Kirk Cousins and not confident in Mike Maccagnan to draft a quarterback. Yes, Bridgewater would be substantially more affordable than Cousins but you are getting what you pay for and signing Bridgewater by himself is not a sufficient answer to fixing the quarterback position this offseason. He has not played in two full years and was pretty good but far from great prior to that. He can still develop and in the right situation potentially be a top 15 starter but that is major, major question mark based on his health history. If you sign Bridgewater, you should absolutely still be in the market for drafting a quarterback with the 6th pick in the NFL Draft or looking at making another veteran addition. You cannot sign him and expect him to be your starter of 16 games.

I don’t expect my opinion to change much on this draft’s top quarterbacks in the next four months barring an injury. Josh Rosen is the top quarterback, followed fairly closely by Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, with Lamar Jackson slightly behind those two. All four of those should be clear cut first round picks, if it was up to me. Mason Rudolph is my QB5 and a borderline first round pick, while Josh Allen should be a day two pick even though Cleveland is seriously considering him with the first overall pick.

I am not a believer in the mentor/bridge quarterback narrative. Josh McCown has “mentored” John Beck, Mike Glennon, Cody Kessler, Johnny Manziel, Bryce Petty and yes Christian Hackenberg. It isn’t McCown’s fault these guys all stink but acting like he is going to improve them in any way is inaccurate. Hackenberg is never going to be a NFL starter, neither is Bryce Petty. Jets fans should make peace with that. Some of us made peace with it the second they were drafted. The rest need to join us.

Unlike most, I don’t see the need to bring McCown back at all. If you want him to coach then hire him to coach, don’t use salary cap space on him. If you pay him 6 million dollars or more next year, you are ignoring over a decade of evidence in favor of 12 games last year. Did we not just learn from this mistake with Ryan Fitzpatrick? McCown will regress to the mean in both performance and health. You got all you could have hoped for and more from him in 2017, don’t hit on 17 at the blackjack table.

The entire thread around this Cousins discussion yesterday is worth reading, as there are good points on both sides. You should also listen to this terrific podcast on the topic. Jeff makes a very good and fair point here. Many people’s argument to draft Cousins is based around the team’s GM and HC not being able to handle a rookie quarterback and not willing to risk their job security with one. As a Jets fan, you should theoretically care more about the long term health of the franchise instead of Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles’ insecurities about their job.

You can make a reasonable case for signing Cousins and passing on him in free agency. I don’t have a scalding hot take of it being a home run or disaster either way. My personal preference is to trade up for Josh Rosen or draft Baker Mayfield but there is no guarantee either of those things can be executed on draft day, so offering Cousins the GDP of a small country may actually be a safer route. I guess the question comes down to this, are the Jets better the next five years with Cousins and a roster built around his cap number or with Rosen/Mayfield and a roster built around their cap number?It probably depends on how you feel about the QB prospects and the ability of the Jets to be aggressive on draft night.

I want nothing to do with Alex Smith, AJ McCarron or Sam Bradford. Smith is going to be 34 years old, had an offense perfectly crafted to him by Andy Reid on a team loaded with weapons and capped out as a guy who could not get out of the first round. He is not getting a better situation in the next few years with the Jets and you’d likely have to trade picks for him. Hard pass. McCarron is a backup at this level and Bradford is even more fragile than Bridgewater.

As for Tyrod, I’d like to see him in an offense where he isn’t throwing to traffic cones and is built to strengths but there are limitations to his game and what you’d invest him. If the Jets strike out on Cousins, I wouldn’t mind giving him a 2 year, 32 million dollar type contract and then still looking at drafting aa quarterback in round 1 or round 2 depending on how the board breaks. It is far from a Plan A but it is better than playing 39 year old Josh McCown or Bryce HackenPetty.

I think of both Bowles and Maccagnan at about the same level as of today, both thoroughly “meh” through three years. That being said, the tail to money spent this offseason is longer than Bowles coaching one more year so Maccagnan is the bigger risk in this scenario, although the BIGGEST RISK may be Maccagnan using a premium pick on the wrong quarterback (Hey, Josh Allen at #6).

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Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports