A little over a week ago, the New York Jets traded with the Indianapolis Colts that allowed them to move up to the 3rd overall pick in the upcoming draft. Along with swapping the 3rd and 6th picks, the Colts also received two 2nd round picks in the 2018 draft, and another 2nd round pick in the 2019 draft. This puts the Jets in position to draft their quarterback of the future. They will receive one of the remaining signal callers which include Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, and Baker Mayfield. Every team is trying to find that 12-15-year quarterback to carry their franchise, and the Jets have been looking for this particular piece of puzzle since the mid 70’s. The team was in the running for former Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, and reports suggest the team offered him $30 million a year, fully guaranteed. Once Cousins decided to take less money and sign with the Minnesota Vikings, the Jets had to turn its focus to acquiring one of this year’s top quarterback prospects.
After reading takes from members of the media all week, it seemed to be a split decision if the Jets made the right move to give up three 2nd round picks to move up only three spots in the draft. Only moving up to pick three does not even guarantee that the Jets get the quarterback of their choice, which has been one of the major criticisms of the move. The other criticism is that the Jets were 5-11 for a reason. This is a team that has major holes all throughout the roster, and 2nd round picks are typically quality starters if used correctly (sorry Christian Hackenberg, I will always love you for your impact on the Penn State Football rebuild, but you were not the correct use of a 2nd round pick after watching you for three years).
Although the skepticism is understandable, especially with the Jets history, its hard to blame a team for trying to find a player to lead their franchise to consistent success. We have examples on both sides of the,” trading up for a quarterback,” story. We have quarterbacks like Deshawn Watson, Pat Mahomes, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz who all have shown the potential of being franchise quarterbacks after their respective teams gave up a significant amount of draft capital. Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl for the Ravens a few years after the team traded up for him. We also have seen quarterbacks like Robert Griffin III, Mark Sanchez, Josh Freeman, Tim Tebow, Blane Gabbert, Teddy Bridgewater, Johnny Manziel, and Paxton Lynch not end up working out as planned. Some of these failed situations did provide small amounts of success. Sanchez went to two straight AFC Championship games, Tebow won a playoff game, RGII and Bridgewater showed franchise quarterback potential before major injuries, and Freeman carried my pathetic Buccaneers team to their only playoff appearance since Super Bowl XVII.
This information shows that you have about a 50/50 shot of getting it right. That is a risk a fourth-year head coach and a third-year general manager are willing to take with their jobs on the line. To counter the two objections to this trade; maybe there is a chance that the Jets think 3 or 4 of these top prospects are franchise quarterbacks. The Eagles traded up to the second overall pick in 2016 not knowing if the Rams were going to take Goff or Wentz, but the front office was content with the move because they were convinced both players were franchise guys. That analysis is being proven accurate after two years of production from each quarterback. The other major benefit of trading up for a quarterback is that he is going to be cheap for the first four years of his contract. This allows teams to spend money on free agents to fill major voids in the roster. The Eagles and Seahawks are the obvious recent examples of this strategy, with both teams winning Super Bowls early in the process.
If the Jets get this right, the franchise that has experienced decades of disappoint might have something to get excited about, and no one will ever think about how much the team traded away to draft their franchise savior. If they get the wrong guy, Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan will be out the door, and the organization will have to start from scratch, just like they did after Sanchez left in 2013.
Photo Credit: si.com