Mike Maccagnan has acquired at least one veteran via trade in his three offseasons as General Manager of the New York Jets, and armed with a ton of cap space and a need for more picks it is possible that this year will not be any different. With that in mind, let’s take a look at six veterans that the Jets GM could look to acquire if he decides to bring in some veteran talent this offseason…
Cowboys WR Dez BryantWhy? The Jets need insurance at WR with the unknown recovery of Quincy Enunwa and the upcoming suspension of Robby Anderson, and while they have a veteran WR in Jermaine Kearse already in the fold it would not hurt to bring in a better WR just in case. The Jets were rumored to be in the hunt for Jarvis Landry, which lets you know they believe there is a need.
Enter Dez Bryant, who I believe gets a ton of flack for not being the WR everyone expected him to be coming out of college but who has also shown that given adequate QB play he is a weapon in the passing game. Dallas is up against the cap and does not have many moves they can make to get under it, so moving on from Bryant feels like a no-brainer for them. The Jets have the requisite cap space to absorb Dez similar to how Cleveland absorbed Brock Osweiler with a draft pick attached. He is a good run blocker, and entering the final year of his deal. He will be motivated to cash in, and if he plays well and is on his best behavior then you can resign him next year. If he’s not? You can let him walk.
Bengals RB Giovanni Bernard
Why? The Jets, again if rumors are to be believed, were set to make Jerrick McKinnon a top 5 paid RB in this league. They also signed Isaiah Crowell to a three year deal. This shows you they also want to try and upgrade their running game, and that they realize Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire cannot be the primary ballcarriers at this time. Bernard could lose playing time to Joe Mixon, but he is still an effective playmaker.If the Jets added him to a stable that includes Crowell, McGuire and a rookie RB (hello Ronald Jones in R2), then suddenly you have four distinct runners who can all contribute differently. Jeremy Bates didn’t care about who the RB was when he was in Denver, and in fact made it a point to ride the hot hand, and adding Bernard would improve their options.
Cardinals S/CB Tyrann Matthieu
Why? Adding Trumaine Johnson was a smart move, as he was the best cornerback on the market. Bringing back Morris Claiborne and sliding him into the CB2 role would make sense, since he is horribly miscast as a CB1. Buster Skrine is not as bad as some Jets fans make it, despite his hefty price tag, and none of the younger cornerbacks have shown anything that says they’re better than him. Adding the Honey Badger to this secondary would elevate it to a different level and that’s even if they keep Skrine. Matthieu is a ball hawk coming off a slightly ineffective season (it feels like all the Cardinals are) who would seem to benefit from a change of scenery.
The Cardinals have Sam Bradford and now Mike Glennon under contract, but chances are they will look to add a QB. An extra 3rd gives them more ammo to move up and get their QB. The Jets have ran more 3-3-5/3-2-6 looks over the last year and a half, so if your base defense transitions to that then a secondary of Johnson/Claiborne/Matthieu/Skrine/Adams/Maye is about as good as they come. Tyrann’s versatility as a corner and a safety gives him incredible value to the coach very much responsible for developing him. This would be a great acquisition for Maccagnan.49ers DE/OLB Aaron Lynch
Why? The one legitimate hole this team still lacks is at pass rusher, and Lorenzo Mauldin is not it. The 49ers are loaded with pass rushers on the defensive line, and Lynch has continued to lose playing time to the first rounders the 49ers have drafted. Lynch is two years removed from back to back seasons where he posted at least 6 sacks, and can play both with his hand in the dirt and standing up as a stand up rusher. Lynch is also still young, which gives him some long term potential as well. He’s also solid in coverage, and for a team like the Jets who has the line play to dominate up front they are going to need guys to bring pressure off the edge. I’d draft Arden Key in R2, and still add Lynch for NASCAR packages and to replace the ineffective and inconsistent Mauldin.
Giants CB Eli Apple
Why? The Jets were linked to the former Buckeye star leading up to the draft, and he appeared on his way out of Big Blue’s future plans when players began to question everything about him publicly. He was still a first round pick, who played well his first year, and then had a really rough year while dealing with a lot of personal stuff. Apple is better than any young corner the Jets have added even with the rough year, and he would give the Jets legitimate outside corner insurance in case Claiborne is banged up again. The good teams plan for their star players to fall off the cliff, and this has been an issue for Maccagnan so far. While I love the Johnson signing, the Jets would be wise to add a young corner that they can groom behind their star cornerback. Eli Apple could give them that young corner.
Steelers WR Martavis Bryant
Why? The focus of this offseason, in my opinion, for the Jets needed to be young ascending talent as oppose to old declining talent. While it made sense for them to chase Kirk Cousins, adding a younger QB in Bridgewater to the QB room was also paramount. Jarvis Landry made more sense than a guy like Terrelle Pryor, and Trumaine Johnson made more sense than a guy like Brent Grimes.
These would’ve been, and were, smart signings by Maccagnan that directly contrast the moves he made his first offseason. The Jets have Enunwa and Anderson (two young guys with uncertain futures with the team), and with Hansen and Stewart not showing a lot last year their only certain WR is the aforementioned Kearse. Martavis Bryant is talented, and probably on his last chance to salvage his NFL career before he ends up going the Josh Gordon route. The Steelers reportedly shopped Bryant last year at the deadline, and are an aging team with a shrinking window. It’s time they start thinking about life after Ben Roethlisberger, though, and this draft has signal callers of different potential. Adding a draft pick that they can use to add a young QB would not hurt them. They have shown that they can develop WRs as is, and with JuJu and AB signed long term they don’t necessarily need Bryant. The Jets do, and it’s a gamble worth taking with a young QB potentially starting for the team.
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