Wednesday, March 14, 2018
All signs point toward free-agent quarterback Kirk Cousins signing a three-year contract with the Vikings, it's on to Plan B for the Jets.
Which isn't the worst thing in the world.
Even though Cousins would have represented an immediate upgrade at the game's most important position, signing him for just three years and a reported $84-million, fully guaranteed deal would have been shortsighted and ultimately counterproductive. Had the Jets been able to secure a more traditional five-year deal with only a portion of the contract guaranteed, that would have been a far more palatable alternative.
But with the Vikings in desperation mode now that they're only a quarterback away from being a legitimate Super Bowl contender, there's simply no way to justify a similar deal that would see Cousins potentially gone after three years.
So Plan B isn't such a bad thing. The Jets have agreed to bring back Josh McCown on a one-year deal, and they're also aiming to sign Vikings free-agent quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. McCown, Bridgewater and a top quarterback in this year's draft (with one notable exception), and they'll be in far better shape than they were at the end of last season.
McCown already proved his worth last year, offering a patient veteran presence and putting together his best season. He's a terrific locker room leader, and he'd be an excellent mentor for Bridgewater and a rookie quarterback.
Bridgewater is a former first-round quarterback who appears fully healthy after suffering a major knee injury in 2016, and he still has plenty of upside at age 25. Put Bridgewater, McCown and a rookie quarterback (with one notable exception) in the same room, then there is a significant upgrade. Bryce Petty has proved to be mediocre, and though Christian Hackenberg is still young and going into his third NFL season, the fact that he hasn't taken a single regular-season snap means the Jets may be ready to move on without him.
If the Jets do want Bridgewater, then they've got to make an aggressive run at him, lest they lose out to another quarterback-needy team. GM Mike Maccagnan is flush with salary-cap space, so there's every reason to believe he can make it work financially.
Now, about that rookie quarterback. With the sixth overall pick, the Jets are in line to potentially get any of the four highest-rated quarterbacks in the draft -- USC's Sam Darnold, UCLA's Josh Rosen, Wyoming's Josh Allen or Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield. Any of them would do (with one notable exception). Count me out when it comes to Mayfield, who has a size limitation at 6-feet and whose cockiness borders on the kind of arrogance that won't work in the Jets' locker room.
Mayfield is coming off a terrific career at Oklahoma, but the fact that he's so easily triggered -- see the flag plant after the win over Ohio State and the crotch grab during the win over Kansas -- makes him a liability at this level. He is unapologetic for his attitude, insisting that his inner confidence is why he was so productive in college. But that stuff just doesn't fly in the NFL, and the fact that he wants to start immediately wouldn't fit into the structure of a Bridgewater-McCown-rookie arrangement.
Better for Maccagnan to swing a trade to get Darnold, Rosen or Allen, or else take an impact player at another position in the draft and perhaps get Louisville's Lamar Jackson or Oklahoma State's Mason Rudolph later on.
Having Cousins on a long-term deal could have afforded the Jets a chance to get an impact player at sixth overall, but now that he's out of the mix, Plan B is a perfectly viable alternative.
Sports on 03/14/2018
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