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Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Jets, Alex Smith And Kirk

All over the air waves this past week, the talk was the Alex Smith trade to Washington. The trade indicates the Redskins are parting ways with Kirk Cousins. The Jets and their soon to be large cap number will be in play for one of the most sought after free agents ever. Other active teams that have been mentioned to be in the “Cousins Hunt” will be: The Bills, Broncos, Browns, Cardinals, Dolphins and Vikings. There will be more. Trust me. And whoever gets Cousins will overpay for him. The former fourth round draft pick out of Michigan State has a life time quarterback rating of 93.7. He is not quite an elite quarterback but his last three years have been very good. It seems that Jet fans have been seeking that franchise quarterback forever. I’m not saying Kirk Cousins is not worth whatever price the Jets pay but signing him will use up a huge chunk of the Jets cap money. I would prefer the Jets draft and develop their own QB. Remember that Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles will have their jobs on the line in 2018 so the choice they make better work. Jet fans who want Kirk Cousins have to ask if he is the type of quarterback that can instantly make his teammates better. Look at what Jimmy Garoppolo did to the 49er team when he became the starting QB. Their level of play was instantly raised. I just don’t think Kirk Cousins is this type of quarterback.

For the last three years, Kirk Cousins has put up very good stats. Let’s look………

Year   Comp.%  TDs  INT     W-L               
2015    69.8         29   11        9-7                                           
2016    67.0         25   12        8-7-1               
2017    64.3         27   13        7-9               

Jets Cap Space
When the Jets cut Muhammad Wilkerson, they will have approximately 100 million dollars in cap money to spend. When you look closely at the Jet roster, there is a chance that Mike Maccagnan may convince the Johnson family to blow it all up and start almost from scratch.  With all the cap money available, the Jets can get younger and better at certain positions. They will save money if they cut guard James Carpenter as well as Buster Skrine-who put together 4 of his best games in a row in December. Ben Ijalana who didn’t start a single game on the offensive line would be a savings if the Jets cut him. I would also think that Matt Forte has played his last game as a Jet.  The QB situation reigns supreme even when figuring cap money. Is it worth it to keep Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg around when the Jets may be better served drafting a quarterback in the first and fourth rounds and pay them the established rookie contract? Can the combination of say quarterbacks Baker Mayfield with their first pick and Western Kentucky’s Mike White with their third or fourth pick playing behind Josh McCown for a year be any worse than the Petty/Hackenberg combo? I would rather save cap money and overpay for offensive lineman. 

The NFL salary cap right now is $178,000,000.
The top ten teams with the most to spend right now.
1. 49ers      $119,459,000. * Once they sign Jimmy G., the 49ers should move behind the Jets.
2. Browns  $111,646,000.
3. Colts      $ 84,294,000.
4. Jets         $ 79,554,000. * When Jets cut Wilkerson and others, they will have around $100 million.
5. Bucs       $ 64,564,000.
6. Texans    $ 57,971,000.
7. Vikings   $ 57,160,000.
8. Redskins $ 52,745,000.
9. Titans      $ 50,275,000.
10.Lions      $ 49,551,000.


Jets Should Build Offensive Lineman First
Speak to any NFL scout or coach and they will all tell you that any NFL receiver will eventually get open in a game if the quarterback has enough time. I have been preaching this for years that the Jets need to focus on the offensive line first. Running backs and wide receivers are available a lot more than lineman. The great former general manager of the NY Giants Ernie Accorsi used this theory to build up the Giants defensive line. It worked in beating the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The Jets need to do the same thing on the offensive side of the ball. The most obvious need is center. Wesley Johnson was one of the lowest if not the lowest rated center in the NFL. Here is what Pro Football Focus said after week seven:

“Johnson has graded out as the league’s worst center through the first seven weeks of the season, struggling in both the run game and the passing game, according to Pro Football Focus”.

Johnson is clearly not the answer. I actually thought that back up center Jonotthan Harrison looked good in pre-season and held his own in the small sample size we saw of him in the regular season. He is 26 and if the Jets think he has potential, this has to be an option.  Between draft picks and free agents the offensive line has to be a focus. Here is the present list of offensive lineman that will be free agents. This can change as franchise tags are given.

Centers
1. Matt Paradis (RFA), C, Broncos. Age: 28.   
Matt Paradis had a Pro Bowl-caliber 2016 campaign, but regressed this season, probably because he had a hip injury that he recovered from in the spring. Paradis should be able to rebound in 2018 and perform on a high level. Don’t know what the Jets would have to give up if they signed this restricted free agent. 
2. John Sullivan, C, Rams. Age: 33.   
John Sullivan was once a very skilled center for the Vikings. He was a backup for a while after that for some reason, but the Rams gave him a chance to start, and it paid off. Sullivan had a strong 2017 campaign, but he's 33 and bound to regress at some point in the next 2-3 years. If there is any hope for Harrison in the future, then the Jets should sign Sullivan for 2-3 years. 
3. Weston Richburg, C, Giants. Age: 27.   
Weston Richburg is a talented center, but it's scary that he missed most of 2017 with a concussion. He played in just four games with the head injury, which doesn't bode well for his future. 
The Jets should stay away from him. After the retirement of Eric Wood from the Bills, the concussion issue scares me.

Guards
1. Andrew Norwell, G, Panthers. Age: 26.   
Andrew Norwell is one of the top guards in the NFL. He is the cream of the crop and has improved every single season in the league. Right now and he is dominant in every regard. Norwell should continue to get better, as he won't even turn 27 until October. This is a player the Jets should over pay for.  Rumor is the Giants will make a big push for him.
2. Justin Pugh, G/OT, Giants. Age: 28.
Justin Pugh is one of the best guards in the NFL, but had to play out of his position at right tackle this year. He's a mediocre right tackle, but he needs to start in the interior to be most effective. Could be a good fit but only as a guard for the Jets. 
3. Jack Mewhort, G, Colts. Age: 27.
Jack Mewhort would be considered one of the top, young guards in the NFL if he could stay healthy. Unfortunately, he's been way too injury-prone. He played in only five games this past season, and he was out for six contests the year before. He's played just one full season in his career thus far. If the Jets could sign him to a one year contract with incentives, it may work.

Tackles
1. Ja'Wuan James, OT, Dolphins. Age: 26.
Miami had a bad offensive line this past season, but don't blame Ja'Wuan James. He was one of the better right tackles in the NFL prior to landing on injured reserve with a groin injury. He was excellent in pass protection, and he's only going to be 26 in June. Good upside for this young player who may need a change of scenery. 
2. Nate Solder, OT, Patriots. Age: 30.
Nate Solder isn't coming off his best year, as he dealt with early leg injuries and never recovered. However, he gutted it out and didn't miss a game. Solder has struggled with health in recent years, and he'll turn 30 in April, so he isn't going to be rated nearly as highly as he once was. Jets should stay away. Great player when he is on but injuries and the medical condition of his son raise a few flags.
3. Cameron Fleming, OT, Patriots. Age: 25
The Patriots lost Marcus Cannon for the season, yet didn't skip a beat because Cameron Fleming did a good job as a replacement. Just 26 in September, Fleming has a bright future ahead of him.
I will be shocked is BB doesn’t lock this guy up for the long term. I never understood why when this Stanford 4th round pick was cut by the Pats in 2015, the Jets or any other team didn’t pick him up.

Jets Affected By Surprise Retirement of Bills Center Eric Wood
Eric Wood, the The Buffalo Bills fine starting center has abruptly retired at age 31 due to a neck injury. Wood has played his entire NFL career with the Bills. He started all 120 games he has played after being a first-round pick in the 2009 NFL draft. Wood initially played right guard in Buffalo but has been the team's center since the 2011 season, making the Pro Bowl in 2015. He saw his 2009 and 2016 seasons end early due to broken legs but has been a reliable player for the Bills, who signed him to a two-year extension through 2019 last August. What does this mean for the New York Jets? Buffalo has two first round picks (#21 and #22) and two second round picks. I predicted that the Bills would be one of the quarterback needy teams that had the ammunition to move up into the top five of the draft. With the Eric Wood injury, this may change things a bit but they still may try and take a leap into the top five packaging a future #1 pick to do so. Look for the Bills to pick Ohio State center Billy Price with one of their current first round picks. I was hoping Price would slip to the second round and the Jets would be able to snag him. He is a real good offensive lineman who like Eric Wood plays both center and guard.

This week’s mock draft comes from Connor Riley from an SEC web site called SEC Country (www.SECCountry.com) 

1. Cleveland Browns: Sam Darnold, USC QB
2. New York Giants: Josh Rosen, UCLA QB:
3. Indianapolis Colts: Bradley Chubb DE
4. Cleveland Browns (via Houston)Minkah Fitzpatrick, Alabama DB
5. Denver Broncos: Josh Allen, Wyoming QB
6. New York Jets: Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma QB
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saquon Barkley
8. Chicago Bears: Christian Kirk, Texas A&M WR
9. San Francisco 49ers: Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame OG
10.Oakland Raiders: Roquan Smith, Georgia LB
11.Miami Dolphins: Arden Key, LSU DE/OLB
12.Cincinnati Bengals: Mike McGlinchey, Notre Dame T
13.Washington Redskins: Derwin James, FSU DB
14.Green Bay Packers: Josh Jackson, Iowa CB
15.Arizona Cardinals: Connor Williams, Texas T
16.Baltimore Ravens: Calvin Ridley, Alabama WR
17.Los Angeles Chargers: Da’Ron Payne, Alabama DT
18.Seattle Seahawks: Derrius Guice, LSU RB
19.Dallas Cowboys: Maurice Hurst, Michigan DT
20.Detroit Lions: Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech LB
21.Buffalo Bills: James Washington, Oklahoma State WR
22.Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City), Vita Vea, Washington DT:
23.Carolina Panthers: Marcus Davenport, DE UTSA
24.Los Angeles Rams: Orlando Brown, Oklahoma T
25.Tennessee Titans: Denzel Ward, Ohio State CB
26.Atlanta Falcons: Isaiah Wynn, Georgia OG
27.New Orleans Saints: Harold Landry, DE/OLB
28.Pittsburgh Steelers: Rashaan Evans, Alabama LB
29.Jacksonville Jaguars: Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State QB
30.Minnesota Vikings: Billy Price, Ohio State G/C
31.New England Patriots: Sam Hubbard, Ohio State DE/OLB
32.Philadelphia Eagles: Braden Smith, Auburn OG


What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
Prospective free agent Kirk Cousins, appearing on ESPN's "NFL Live," gave his assessment of the Jets as a potential landing spot. "With the Jets, the first thing that stands out is Jeremy Bates has a connection to coach [Mike] Shanahan," he said. "Both Mike, Kyle [Shanahan], that whole system I played in. Sean McVay comes from that tree. I just think so highly of them as play callers, as offensive gurus if you will. Because Jeremy comes from that tree, it would be exciting to think about working with someone like that, knowing how important Xs and Os and game planning is and having the right play caller."

Brian Costello, NY Post
Any concerns about Kirk Cousins’ decision-making were eased on Wednesday afternoon when he walked past many of the other options in the Mall of America food court to stand on line at Shake Shack.Great choice, Kirk.In about six weeks, Cousins will face a much tougher decision. The quarterback is going to be the top free agent on the market after the Redskins made it clear they are not bringing him back by agreeing to a trade with the Chiefs to acquire Alex Smith. The Jets must decide between now and then if they are going to be one of the teams wooing him with bundles of cash and promises of playoff runs. For general manager Mike Maccagnan, make-or-break time has arrived, and the 2018 quarterback decision, which Cousins now moves to front and center in, could decide his fate with the organization. Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles are entering their fourth season with the team. The honeymoon ended long ago.Maccagnan has not solved the franchise’s decades-long quarterback problem yet. He has drafted two quarterbacks that both look like they are not the answer. Christian Hackenberg, his second-round pick in 2016, has not taken a snap in his two seasons. Maccagnan has used veteran Band-Aids at the position with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh McCown. But it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid and find a long-term answer under center.
Is that Cousins? That is what Maccagnan must figure out. Cousins is a human Rorschach test — everyone sees something different. Some see a franchise quarterback who has played well on a bad team in Washington. Others see a solid quarterback who can win games with a good supporting cast around him, but one who will never be elite. Whatever the opinion is on Cousins, the price tag is going to be exorbitant. Cousins is expected to get the richest contract in NFL history. His contract could be five years, $150 million with around $90 million guaranteed.

Manesh Mehta, NY Daily News
Mike Shanahan believes that it might be time to visit your local optometrist if you don’t think that Kirk Cousins is the real deal.Less than two weeks after former Washington general manager Scot McCloughan said that he didn’t think the veteran quarterback was “special,” the coach who discovered Cousins made it crystal clear that the best is yet to come from the signal caller.
“There’s no question in my mind that he’s a special player,” Shanahan told the Daily News on Monday. “If you don’t think he’s a special player, that means you don’t watch him practice very often. You take a look at some of the games he’s played in. He hasn’t played with a good defense that’s been in the upper half of the league, I don’t think, since he’s been there. You can’t always do it by yourself. You got to have an offense and a defense for a quarterback to be really successful… especially when you get in the playoffs. But I guarantee you he’s a special guy.”
Shanahan, frankly, is right. Washington has had a subpar defense in Cousins’ three seasons as the full-time starter. The raw numbers: Washington has finished 28th, 28th and 21st in total defense and 17th, 19th and 27th in points allowed…..Cousins, who's 24-24-1 as the full-time starter, will hit the open market unless Washington slaps the franchise tag on him for a third consecutive season. A third franchise tag, however, would cost $34 million, prompting some quarterback-needy teams like the Jets to wonder about landing the plug-and-play quarterback.
Shanahan’s imprint seemingly will be all over the 2018 Jets with former pupil Jeremy Bates in line to take over the offense. It makes perfect sense for the Jets to go all-in for Cousins in free agency…..Shanahan doesn’t have a shadow of a doubt that Cousins, who will turn 30 this summer, will be a difference maker for years to come.
“So many times people talk about these quarterbacks, (but) until they get a good defense, the chances of winning a lot of playoff games aren’t very good,” Shanahan said. “You have to have personnel. It doesn’t have to be great personnel, but it has to be good personnel… You got to put these guys in position at least to have a chance. That’s why it’s so important to have the whole team together with your GM, your owner, your head coach, your coordinators.” The Jets need to all get on board with this truth: Kirk Cousins is the best solution to your biggest problem.







                Mike White interview, Quarterback Western KY.



                                    Mike White Highlights


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