Entering the offseason, the New York Jets needed what they always seem to need — a quarterback. Kirk Cousins was the top prize in free agency, but he was never coming to New York, despite an offer of $90 million guaranteed. So, the Jets circled back to 38-year-old Josh McCown, the likeable team leader who had a career year last season before breaking his non-throwing hand, on a one-year, $10 million deal. They also took a flier on former Viking Teddy Bridgewater, who came back from a severe knee injury last season and is still only 25-years-old.
But both those guys are just stopgaps, so, holding the No. 6 pick in a draft that has four top prospects (Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield), the Jets traded with the Colts to move up to the No. 3 spot, giving Indianapolis the No. 6 pick and three second-rounders (two this year and one in 2019).
The Jets also filled a need at cornerback by signing former Ram Trumaine Johnson to a five-year, $72.5 million deal, with $34 fully million guaranteed at signing. The guaranteed money is the third most the Jets have ever given on a single contract, behind Darrelle Revis ($39 million) and Muhammad Wilkerson ($37 million).
After last year’s leading tackler Demario Davis signed with the Saints, the Jets filled their vacant inside linebacker spot with former Titan Avery Williamson on a three-year, $22.5 million deal ($16 million guaranteed).
The Jets also desperately needed a starting-caliber center, and signed one in Spencer Long on a four-year, $27.4 million deal. His 2017 season with the Redskins was cut short due to a torn quad muscle, which required surgery, but he still should be an upgrade over Wesley Johnson.
Running back Isaiah Crowell (Browns) and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor (Redskins) were signed to provide depth at the skill positions, as were linebackers Brandon Copeland (Lions) and Kevin Pierre-Louis (Chiefs) on defense. And the Jets signed kicker Cairo Santos to replace the departed Chandler Catanzaro (Bucs).
Here is a closer look at where the Jets are, how they got here and a shot at what they should do with their first pick in the draft.
2017 finish: 4th AFC East (5-11)
TOTAL OFFENSE: 305.3 (28th)
RUSHING: 106.4 (19th)
PASSING: 198.9 (24th)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 352.3 (25th)
RUSHING: 117.9 (24th)
PASSING: 234.3 (21st)
- Quarterback: The only Jets team this century to finish in the top 10 in the NFL in points scored was the 2008 squad, which had Brett Favre in his only season as a Jet, so that underscores the importance of the position when it comes to something fundamentally necessary to win football games — scoring points. McCown put up decent numbers last year, more so at home, but he struggled in the fourth quarter. The Jets are hoping to find their franchise quarterback with the No. 3 pick, someone who will be around the next 15 seasons or so.
- Edge rusher: The Jets only had 28 sacks last season (fifth worst in the league) and they need someone to replace Wilkerson on the line. Their only bona fide pass rusher is Leonard Williams. They have depth guys in Xavier Cooper and Mike Pennel, but they’d be well served to get some young, hungry edge rushers in the later rounds of the draft.
- Offensive line: The Jets had one of the worst lines in football last season, and it led to an extremely inconsistent run game and getting their starting quarterback injured for the season in Week 14. If the Jets are going to invest so much in their quarterback of the future, they need to better protect him. Kelvin Beachum is a solid left tackle, Long should be OK at center and right guard Brian Winters should return healthy this season after an abdominal issue. But the Jets need more depth at guard.
KEY PERSONNEL TRACKER (As of April 6)
–SS Terrence Brooks: UFA; $4M/2 yrs, $1M guaranteed/$600K SB.
–CB Morris Claiborne: UFA; $7M/1 yr, $6.85M fully guaranteed/$3M SB).
–DE Xavier Cooper: Not tendered as RFA; $780K/1 yr.
–WR Quincy Enunwa: RFA tendered at $2.914M with second-round pick as compensation); $2.914M/1 yr.
–C Jonotthan Harrison: UFA; $880K/1 yr, $90K SB.
–T Ben Ijalana: UFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
–QB Josh McCown: Potential UFA; $10M guaranteed/1 yr, $5M SB.
–NT Mike Pennel: UFA; $10.5M/3 yrs, $3.5M guaranteed/$1.5M SB/$800K RB.
–QB Teddy Bridgewater: UFA Vikings; $6M/1 yr, $500K SB/$500K WO. Up to $9M incentives for playing time per game/playing time/passing yds/TDs.
–DE Brandon Copeland: Not tendered as RFA by Lions; $1.2M/1 yr, $100K SB.
–RB Isaiah Crowell: UFA Browns; $12M/3 yrs, $6M guaranteed ($2M injury only at signing, $3M SB).
–LB Neville Hewitt: Not tendered as ERFA by Dolphins; $630K/1 yr.
–CB Trumaine Johnson: UFA Rams; $72.5M/5 yrs, $45M guaranteed ($11M injury only at signing, $20M SB).
–RB Jeremy Langford: FA; $630K/1 yr.
–C Spencer Long: UFA Redskins; $27.4M/4 yrs, $6M guaranteed/$1.5M SB.
–WR/KR Jalin Marshall: FA; $630K/1 yr.
–ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis: UFA Chiefs; 5.25M/2 yrs, $2.5M guaranteed/$1M SB.
–WR Terrelle Pryor Sr.: UFA Redskins; $4.5M/1 yr, $2M guaranteed/$1M SB.
–RB Thomas Rawls: Not tendered as RFA by Seahawks; terms unknown.
–WR/KR Andre Roberts: UFA Falcons; $1.005M/1 yr, $90K SB.
–K Cairo Santos: UFA Bears; $2M/1 yr, $500K SB.
–C Travis Swanson: UFA Lions; terms unknown.
–TE Clive Walford (waivers Raiders).
–LB Avery Williamson: UFA Titans; $22.5M/3 yrs, $16M fully guaranteed/$6M SB.
–K Chandler Catanzaro: UFA Buccaneers; $9.75M/3 yrs, $3.75M fully guaranteed.
–ILB Demario Davis: UFA Saints; $24M/3 yrs, $16M fully guaranteed/$9.2M SB.
–G Dakota Dozier: UFA; terms unknown.
–DE Kony Ealy: UFA Cowboys; terms unknown.
–RB Matt Forte (retired).
–C Wesley Johnson: UFA Lions; $880K/1 yr, $90K SB.
–TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins: UFA Jaguars; $10M/2 yrs, $4M fully guaranteed/$3.21M SB.
–LB Julian Stanford: UFA Bills; $3M/2 yrs, $550K fully guaranteed/$350K SB.
*NFLDraftScout.com analysts suggest (No. 3 overall)
Rob Rang (April 5 mock draft):
–Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. Signing veterans Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater provide the Jets options but considering their recent history — Mark Sanchez and Chad Pennington are the only quarterbacks to start the equivalent of two full seasons for the Jets since the turn of the century — GM Mike Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles know full well how critical it is to find the right quarterback. Rosen is the most polished passer in this draft but his durability concerns require his future NFL team to have other starting-caliber options.
Dane Brugler (April 6 mock draft):
–Josh Rosen, QB, UCLA. What we know: The Jets traded a king’s ransom for this pick to draft a quarterback. What we don’t know: Which quarterbacks will be left for them? Josh Rosen can handle the New York vibe and is ready to play now.
Agree? Disagree? Still shopping?
Based on the team’s current status, those are our suggestions for that first pick. To double check or find another candidate see full mocks and ratings at NFLDraftScout.com.