NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa
There may not be a more intriguing team to watch Thursday night then Gang Green. The Jets have filled some needs in Free Agency as they have been Busy Bees’ this offseason, I’m sure you may have heard.
Last season, New England left Free Agency big winners after Aqib Talib ditched as they acquired Darrelle Revis and later received a 2015 3rd round compensatory pick for the Talib departure. The move ultimately helped New England win a Super Bowl, and should land the Patriots a solid player in this middle-round stacked draft. This year after the Patriots didn’t pick up his team option, Revis bolted for the team who drafted him for a stunning five year $75 million contract with $39 million fully (not just injury) guaranteed. I would argue the big winner in this scenario isn’t the Jets, but Darrelle Revis himself.
The Jets have done much more than just acquire #24 however. They reunited Revis with his former teammate Antonio Cromartie on a four year $32 million with a more modest just $7 million guaranteed. Cromartie got an interesting contract. Essentially past 2015 it is a year to year deal as the Jets can cut the former Florida State Seminole for no dead cap hit past 2016. Once again, the Jets will have two lockdown corners that should significantly better the team.
Continuing the trend of solidifying the secondary was inking Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist. I’m a fan of the Revis signing, and a huge fan of the Cromartie signing. Skrine and Gilchrist I’m going to remain a neutral bystander and let it play out.
Skrine really struggled last year on the outside. As Ian Wharton pointed out, Buster Skrine lost 56% of his routes defensed last year through week seven (mainly on the outside). Lucky for him, he will likely be in a nickel position more often than not as long as Revis and Cromartie stay healthy. He received a hefty four year $25 million deal.
Marcus Gilchrist will help fill one of the biggest needs on the team – safety. Gilchrist signed another misleading contract to the naked eye. He did ink a four year $22 million pact, but only $8.5 million of that is guaranteed and could be released in 2016 for a modest cap hit if things don’t pan out.
Gilchrist has some cornerback background, which helps him as he plays most of his snaps in the slot (66% last season). For the Jets however, especially with Calvin Pryor’s struggles last year, I expect Gilchrist to assume a natural safety role – something he didn’t need to do with Eric Weddle as his teamate.
DT Kevin Vickerson (KC), LB Joe Mays (KC), DE Stephen Bowen (WAS) and LB Jamari Lattimore (GB) were the other defensive additions for new coach Todd Bowles.
Offensively, the Jets attempt to sure up their line with the additions of OTs James Brewer (NYG), Corey Hilliard (DET) and James Carpenter (SEA).
The Jets made shockwaves when they dealed for Brandon Marshall earlier in the offseason. Marshall is without question one of the 5-7 best wide receiver talents in the league. But similar to Percy Harvin, Marshall has now worn out his welcome in three different NFL cities. That is a little bit of a concern – but as long as the Jets are winning I don’t expect Marshall to be a major problem.
The Jets also signed former Patriot Stevan Ridley. He had fumble issues, trust me I’m aware. Overall though, Ridley was a productive back for New England highlighted by his sophomore campaign of 1,623 yards and 12 touchdowns. I truly believe he has a chance to be the featured back in New York next year, and I expect him to do well.
Two of the very best moves the Jets made this offseason was resigning two of their own – G Willie Colon and LB David Harris. Both would have been crushing blows if they got away.
Overall, I don’t see too much that the Jets lost that will hurt them. They had no idea how to use him anyway, so Percy Harvin bouncing for Buffalo isn’t a major deal. First round bust CB Kyle Wilson (the guy a lot of Patriots fans wanted over Devin McCourty, drafted two picks earlier) and CB Phillip Adams will be suiting up for NFC South foes, New Orleans and Atlanta respectively. Chris Johnson remains a Free Agent.
“With the 2nd pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, the ________ select”
Obviously, Tennessee currently owns the pick. What on God’s green earth they will do with it is another question. The Jets, lurking at #6, have options here.
They could stand pat – watch Tennessee pick or trade with somebody else – and take a very good player at #6. Doing so would mean a selection in the neighborhood of WRs Amari Cooper and Kevin White, OT Brandon Scherff, OLBs Vic Beasley and Bud Dupree, or DEs Dante Fowler Jr., Arik Armstead, or Randy Gregory. I don’t see a bad selection in any of those guys, so the Jets no matter what should be coming home with a solid player.
But if they wanted to move up for the Heisman winner Marcus Mariota – what would it cost? The Jets currently don’t own any 5th or 6th round picks. I would assume it’d be in the running of a swap of 1’s, next year’s 1, and a 3 in this year’s and next year’s draft – maybe even more than that.
In my eyes, that wouldn’t be worthwhile for the Jets. Then again, I’m no fan of Geno Smith or Ryan Fitzpatrick, and I understand as much as anyone this is a quarterback league.
Drafting Marcus Mariota would have the fan base buzzing, but would it make the Jets playoff or even (gasp) Super Bowl contenders? I’m not Mariota’s biggest fan personally, but I do 100% believe he would start from day 1 and make the Jets more competitive. The real deal breaker here is the price. In such a deep middle round draft, is it worth it to essentially give up your draft for one player?
If Mariota turns out to be like 2012 #1 pick Andrew Luck – it’s a slam dunk. If Mariota turns out to be like 2012 #2 pick Robert Griffin III, disaster. A lot of eggs would be put in one basket here, normally something NFL GM’s shy away from.
The Jets (what I would do) could also look to move back. Even if both quarterbacks are off the board, #6 is an attractive spot for the players I listed above. This may not be the best first round I’ve ever graded, but it is by far one of the deepest middle round drafts I have ever seen. For the Jets major needs (OG, QB, OLB, CB) there will be value guys on the board for rounds to come. I think trading back, and adding to their picks (only 6 as of now) would be in the Jets best interest and take a flyer on a 2nd or 3rd round quarterback such as Bryce Petty, Brett Hundley or Sean Mannion.
Past the first round, work must be done to help out that pass rush and grab at worst a developmental CB. Jets fans will scream BUT WE GOT REVIS AND CRO! Yes, that’s true. However both CBs are over 30 years old – it would be wise to add a CB or two for the future especially since the Kyle Wilson experiment is finally over.
CB Steven Nelson of Oregon State I believe would be an ideal mid-late round fit for the Jets. Nelson is an aggressive on the line corner who loves to get his hands on receivers early and often. In Todd Bowles new scheme, I think Nelson would thrive especially after a year or two of tutelage from Revis before Nelson would see significant playing time.
Ohio State CB Doran Grant, for similar reasons, would be a nice mid-round pick. He is ultra-aggressive to and through the ball, and has showed great anticipation. He struggles at times with the deep ball and tackling in space, but for the scheme, I think the fit is ideal.
How about some small school love here. UT Chattanooga OLB Davis Tull would have a lot of Jets fans screaming “What the ..!”, but Tull would be a great fit. Tull has a chip on his shoulder and is relentless on the field. Does it start from being from Knoxville and not getting a University of Tennessee offer after a high school injury? Who knows. He is smart and instinctive who was extremely productive during his time with the Mocks. He is a bit of a tweener, with a past of injury issues. Nonetheless, I think a mid-round flyer is worth it on Tull.
Everybody knows about Bud Dupree. As a matter of fact, there is a decent chance the Jets go ahead and take him at #6. The Kentucky DE that really gets me excited is Za’Darius Smith. He has an ideal frame for a NFL DE (6’4 275lbs) with good burst and quickness. He lined up all over the line at Kentucky helping him become a well-rounded player. He is raw however. He’s only been playing football since 2010, yet he was able to wreak havoc at Kentucky from the time he stepped on campus. Not saying he’s a better player than Dupree, just saying the value is (3-4th round pick).
If Marcus Mariota – or Famous Jameis aren’t selected in round 1, I think a good mid round flyer quarterback to try and gamble on is Sean Mannion from Oregon State. Describing Mannion in a nutshell, he is 6’6 230 lbs with the ability to make any throw on the field. Even more so that’s going for him, he played in a pro-style offense which actually made him do this crazy thing – take multiple snaps under center. With Brandin Cooks at receiver Mannion really thrived. I think he has a shot to be the 3rd or even 2nd best quarterback in this class when it’s all said and done.
In New York, it’s all about championships or bust no matter the sport. The Jets…interest me…to say the least. Taking away what we knew about the Jets before, let’s examine the offseason quickly.
They spend over $100 million on two cornerbacks on the wrong side of 30. That move alone screams a team that is just a few players away from a Super Bowl. But in the Jets case – is that really true?
Their defense should be great this year, but they lack the offensive line that carried them to back-to-back AFC Championship game appearances. And has been the story since Joe Namath essentially, there are major question marks at quarterback.
The Jets are approaching one of the worst places to be in the NFL. Truly competitive with no cap space and no quarterback. I think at worst the Jets are a 6-10 7-9 kind of team next year, not allowing them to be in the real running for one of the top 2016 quarterbacks.
I think the Jets have the ability to at worst go 3-3 in the division, even taking one from New England next year. However, at the end of the day, I still have the Jets at best as the third best team in the East. Wild Card? Possibly.
Nonetheless, with Revis arguably becoming the most famous Boston character to leave for the enemy since Benedict Arnold, the Pats-Jets rivalry will be alive and well in 2016.
Next up on Eyes on the Competition – We are going to look at the busiest team in the league this year – Philadelphia.
Tags: 2015 NFL Draft, AFC East, Antonio Cromartie, Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Davis Tull, Doran Grant, Marcus Mariota, New York Jets, Sean Mannion, Stevan Ridley, Steven Nelson, Za'Darius Smith