Heading into the offseason, the solution for the New York Jets at quarterback seemed quite clear: do whatever it takes to get Kirk Cousins if he hits the free agent market. They have the money, a foundation in place that is slowly growing and the market of New York City.
While this plan should obviously still be on the table, the competition won’t be easy. The Broncos and Vikings are also expected to be heavily involved with plenty to offer, making this far from a sure thing.
What if Mike Maccagnan can’t close the deal and the Jets are left to look elsewhere? Do they look at other free agent options? Put all of their chips into the draft? Let’s break down the options that make the most sense if the Cousins master plan falls apart.
Option A: Re-sign Josh McCown, aggressive in draft
There aren’t many scenarios where a veteran will happily mentor a rookie quarterback that is in place to eventually take his job. Alex Smith did it last year with Patrick Mahomes, but it’s not overly common (or at least agreed upon beforehand).
Josh McCown is one of the outliers that would be more than willing to bring a young quarterback along. He’ll be 39 next season (most likely his last) and is coming off a career year where he found a home in New York working with Jeremy Bates. There is a very good chance he becomes a coach after he retires from playing and brings that leadership into the quarterback room even as a player.
The more important question becomes who will the team be grooming to takeover when the time is right? In my opinion, the two realistic options are Josh Rosen and Baker Mayfield.
Sam Darnold will most likely go number one overall (and wouldn’t make it beyond the number two pick anyway), Josh Allen is too much of a risk and reports indicate Lamar Jackson won’t be a first round option for the team.
That leaves Mayfield and Rosen as the options that make the most sense, both being very good. Would either fall to six? That’s a gigantic risk I doubt the Jets can afford to take. Moving up three spots to the Colts pick to ‘get their guy’ makes too much sense, and they couldn’t go wrong with either player in this scenario.
Option B: Take a flyer on Teddy Bridgewater, be patient in draft
There will be a lot riding on Teddy Bridgewater’s medicals as he heads into free agency, but many are forgetting what he was before getting hurt. The 25-year-old quarterback is a high IQ player that can quickly learn the offense while also taking care of the football. Doesn’t that sound like a match made in heaven for Todd Bowles, who constantly preaches he wants to build the run game and have a top flight defense?
If Bridgewater is healthy, it can allow the Jets to be a little more patient in the draft. If Mayfield or Rosen fall to six, take them. If they don’t, wait and see what you have in Teddy this year. He either proves he’s the franchise quarterback Minnesota once had on the field, or it’s time to go all in on the draft.
This is a risky scenario for the front office, as they would be going into year four without a true prospect to develop at signal caller. Do they want to bet their jobs on a free agent not named Kirk Cousins? If I was picking one, it would be the come back of Teddy Bridgewater.
Option C: Climb to the top of the draft at any cost
If the Jets come out of free agency with a very uninspiring quarterback option (you’d really hope it doesn’t come to this, they have to pay the iron price to climb to the top of the draft. The Browns aren’t moving the first pick, but what if they really do take Josh Allen?
That would open an interesting scenario with the second overall pick. Are the Giants really set on building around Eli Manning for his final few years under center? We’d know the answer quickly, as they’d have multiple teams calling them to come up for Sam Darnold.
Trading with the crosstown Giants would be strange, but with Darnold at two, it would be hard to see the Jets not at least picking up the phone.