"I know a way we can get Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. and we won't have to give up that much." -George Costanza
That’s the way mock offseasons frequently look. I’m sure many of my ideas will seem as nutty to you as Costanza’s idea from a classic episode of Seinfeld, but I’m about to give it a go. Undoubtedly you will find many if not all of my ideas terrible and/or realistic. We’re operating in my world, though, where everything breaks perfectly. I did my best to compare my moves to the past and Draft picks to where smart people are projecting to go to keep some semblance of realism. I have probably failed. To what degree I have failed is up to you.
Keep in mind my Draft research is in its embryonic stages so my views might change over time.
Welcome to a world where I am John Idzik.
I could go either way. My opinion could change depending on the last two games. For now, though, I’ll give Rex Ryan the benefit of the doubt because of the lack of talent. Rex doesn’t get rewarded for three straight non-winning seasons with a contract extension, though. He has to coach out the last year of his deal and earn a new contract. A lack of talent won’t be an excuse this time. Are you worried about a lame duck coach? Don’t. Rex says he’s a great coach. His players say they’ll do anything for him. Now everybody can prove it. We can make a clean break next year if things don’t pan out.
Antonio Cromartie (Savings: $9.5 million)
The savings are just too great to keep Cromartie. When a guy’s game is based primarily on athleticism, and that athleticism starts to go, it goes downhill in a hurry.
Mark Sanchez (Savings $8.3 million)
I’m sure somebody somewhere has gotten less for a $50 million investment, but none are coming to mind.
Santonio Holmes (Savings $8.2 million)
For the first time in three years, the Jets actually can afford to find a better option.
Mike Goodson (Savings $1.3 million)
I’m not sure any signing produced less bang for the buck when you factor in lack of production and headaches. The Jets can easily find players with just as much talent and none of the baggage.
Dawan Landry (Savings $1.5 million)
Rex Ryan doesn’t value speed and athleticism at the safety position. He wants veterans back there because he feels he can do more up front with a seasoned veteran at the back of his defense. Unfortunately this frequently results in unathletic guys being exposed. I’m forcing his hand here.
Stephen Hill traded to Philadelphia for Vinny Curry
My bust for your bust, a swap of 2012 second round picks who have done little but disappoint. Curry has flashed an explosive first step as a pass rusher. We’ll see what Chip Kelly can do with Hill and what Rex can do with Curry. The Eagles reportedly have looked to deal Curry in the past, and I think we’ve all seen enough of Hill. Let’s just move on and get some better weapons.
Muhammad Wilkerson to Atlanta for a first round pick and two third round picks
I’m actually doing this. Sometimes you have to trade from an area where you have an excess of talent to build areas where you are weak. Wilkerson is great, which means he has the most value of anybody up front.
The Jets still have a ton of talent up on the interior defensive line, including two first round picks. Sheldon Richardson should get better. He will become the new Wilkerson sliding all over the line to cause havoc. Quinton Coples moves back inside, where he looked imposing at the end of 2012. The move outside has been uneven at best. The Jets still have five effective interior lineman. That spot is still a strength.
Given that fact and the coaching staff’s ability to mold quality players from the scrap heap at that spot, is it really the best allocation of resources to pay somebody even as great as Wilkerson eight figures? Probably not. A 24 year old playing at an All Pro level will fetch a similar return to Jared Allen in my world.
Atlanta is a good trade partner. They can afford him. They want an impact player on the defensive line. They think they are still contenders, and this year is a blip for a team that was 10 yards from the Super Bowl in 2012. The Falcons are in win now mode. They have the requisite picks and enough to keep for themselves because they traded down with a team that wants a quarterback.
When added to their own compliment of seven, the pick coming from the Darrelle Revis trade, and four anticipated compensatory picks, the Jets now own fifteen picks in the NFL Draft and seven of the first 96 picks, a bonanza for a team in desperate need of an infusion of young, cheap talent.
As John Idzik, my philosophy is as follows. I want to minimize my weaknesses in free agency. I want to add impact players through the Draft. I’m not giving out big free agent deals. I have too many holes to think this team can be fixed through a few big contracts, and my money is limited due to the salary cap. Those deals are also very risky. If a moderately priced free agent doesn’t pan out, it’s easy to move on. A bust big money free agent is stuck on my roster for years. I now have around $57 million in cap space. First let’s clear out the dead weight.
A one trick pony who doesn’t perform that one trick particularly well.
He played well in 2013, but he also ended three straight years before that on injured reserve. If he’ll take another cheap one year deal, I’ll bring him back, but anything more is pushing our luck.
Don’t bother looking at the film, Belichick. Don’t you want a veteran who posted a lot of sacks last year who is also a former Jet? Do it! Do it!
Nobody can explain exactly what he was doing on the team in the first place.
I must have miswatched the film according to Ed because I don’t think he looks good on it.
Imagine money was tight, and you needed a car. You might take some old, cheap, beaten down car and hope it can get you through a year. Then a year later the car is still running, but money is better. You can shop for something more reliable with more frills. Winslow is the old car.
He was a decent fill in, but again, we can do better.
Players who have out of context career years at age 29 usually fall back to earth. I wouldn’t pay him much more than he’s getting this year. If he wants a raise, we’ll go in another direction.
Never should have been re-signed to begin with.
Do I really have to explain?
He’s only a return guy and not a very good one.
31 is too old for a guy with his role.
Limited upside once again.
If we’re going to have a developmental quarterback, we’re going to go with somebody who could conceivably be good. That means a decent college starter, not a terrible college backup.
Austin Howard (1st year cap hit: $4 million)
He’s developed into a decent right tackle.
Leger Douzable (1st year cap hit: $1 million)
I’d see if I could bring these guys back for the minimum for varying degrees of upside and special teams reasons. No biggie if I lose any of them.
Other team’s signings
Jimmy Graham (1st year cap hit: $11 million)
Know how I said I wasn’t going to spend big in free agency? This is the exception. Graham is a game-changing offensive force. You can’t take him away, even if you double team him. He is a safety valve and a big play threat. He also opens things up for guys on the outside. In my world, the Saints have crazily let him hit the market.
Jeremy Maclin (1st year cap hit: $5 million)
Maclin is a capable receiver coming off a torn ACL. It happened in training camp, though, so it will be thirteen months from Opening Day 2014. He’s taking a one year LaRon Landry type deal to boost his value and reunite with old offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.
Emmanuel Sanders (1st year cap hit: $3.5 million)
Sanders is not a special target, but he’s a capable starter who would be a big upgrade. You can stick him in the slot or on the outside.
Toby Gerhart: (1st year cap hit: $3 million)
He’s been buried behind Adrian Peterson, but I think Gerhart can be a three down back in this league. He has good patience and vision. He runs with power and is faster and moves better laterally than you think. He can receive and pass protect decently. Gerhart has a 4.7 yard career average per rush. I think of him as kind of like Bilal Powell if Powell was good. We’ll use him and Chris Ivory to pound on teams and keep each other fresh.
Brian Waters (1st year cap hit: $1 million)
He’s this year’s Willie Colon, the good guard coming off an injury. He’s insurance if Brian Winters doesn’t get better. If Winters does, he’s great depth.
Matt Slauson (1st year cap hit: $2 million)
He never should have been let go to begin with.
Anthony Collins (1st year cap hit: $2.5 million)
One of the best backup tackles in the league. He can push Howard for a starting job and capably fill in at either tackle slot. I’m surprised he hasn’t gotten a permanent starting job so far, but he didn’t the last time he was a free agent.
Shaun Hill (1st year cap hit: $1 million)
Geno Smith has simply not shown enough to enter camp as the undisputed starter. There has to be some kind of competition. The veteran pickings are slim so I’m turning to the soon to be 34 year old with eight years in the NFL and 26 games of starting experience. He’s been surprisingly credible when playing with respectable career stats of a 61.9 completion percentage, an 85.9 passer rating, and a 4.3% touchdown rate. He also has a low 2.4% interception rate. He doesn’t have a big enough arm to be a great starter, but he can probably be credible and give the team a certain baseline at the quarterback position if surrounded by decent weapons.
Michael Johnson (1st year cap hit: $4.5 million)
An extremely athletic speed rusher coming off a down year, I’m landing him on a team-friendly deal like Connor Barwin got under similar circumstances. With Coples and Richardson pushing the pocket on the inside, a speed rusher like Johnson could become a force like he was during his 11 sack campaign in 2012. Rex Ryan can make this guy a star. Johnson does have experience standing up at linebacker, but he’s going to be used more with his hand on the ground, which is where he has had the most success.
Vontae Davis (1st year cap hit: $4 million)
He’s struggled lately with the Colts, which lowers his price in my world. I think his skills lend himself to the defense, though. Dee Milliner is going to make a jump from year one to year two, and Davis will be a good starter across from him.
In my world, I’m getting four compensatory picks, one in the fourth round, one in the fifth, and two in the seventh. When added to the Wilkerson and Revis trades, I have this many picks per round.
That leaves me with fifteen total picks. If there is a quarterback I really love, I have all the ammo I need to move up. Given the shabby state of the roster even after my signings, though, I’m inclined to be judicious about my trades. This is a pretty deep quarterback class. If I build a solid foundation, and I still don’t have my quarterback in a year, it will be easier to make a big move.
First round pick A: Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson
We now have a game-breaking receiver. Watkins is a threat to score whenever he touches the ball.
First round pick B: Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech
If Graham provides a matchup nightmare because he’s a huge, athletic mismatch, just imagine what adding a second one will do. The New York Jets are now a team with a monstrous two tight end set. Things are going to be wide open on the outside for my receivers. Remember the Atlanta game where Marty Mornhinweg confounded the Falcons with all of those different personnel groupings? Imagine the Jets being able to do that every week with lethal weapons at every position. We aren’t done yet either.
Second round pick: Adrian Hubbard, OLB, Alabama
He’s big and athletic and hasn’t been limited to just rushing the passer in Alabama’s defense. Nice blend of power and athleticism.
But there’s somebody who is falling unexpectedly. I’ve gotten on the phone with a team that will let me trade back into the second round with my earliest third round pick and a pair of fifth rounders. I can’t trade the compensatory pick so I need to find an extra fifth rounder. One guy is now expendable.
With Sanders around along with Maclin and Watkins (and the guy I’m about to take), Kerley is no longer a necessary piece. The Bears could use a good, cheap slot receiver to compliment their passing game. Now I can...
Trade back into second round for third round pick and two fifth rounders.
Second round pick B: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
It’s my world, and he fell unexpectedly. He’s an enormous 6’5" 234 pound target with good speed and is explosive with the ball in his hands. He might be one of the best receivers in the NFL in a few years. If he can’t contribute right away, we have enough targets. If he can, watch out NFL.
I still am armed with a trio of third round picks, a pair of fourth rounders, a fifth rounder, a sixth rounder, and three seventh rounders. Let’s see what we can do.
Third round pick A: Dion Bailey, S, USC
He’s got good range, and he’s has experience at linebacker so he hits hard. He also is a solid cover guy.
Third round pick B: Michael Sam, DE/OLB, Missouri
He’s a college teammate of Sheldon Richardson and explosive off the edge. He isn’t a pure speed guy. He’s got a few counter moves. If he shows enough in camp and preseason, Antwan Barnes can be released.
Third round pick C: Andre Williams, RB, Boston College
The nation’s leading rusher, he’s another big back with good vision and deceptive speed who can help Gerhart and Ivory pound on defenses. He’s a potential star back in the NFL. Unfortunately he has no receiving skills, but Ivory has shown a back can do good things in this offense without much in this area.
Fourth round pick A: De’Anthony Thomas, RB/WR, Oregon
It’s my world so the inevitable jump players like him have before the Draft never happens, and he’s a fourth round pick some project him as now. Thomas is a game-breaking player. You can move him all around the field, and defenses have to account for him. He can help Gerhart with some of the receiving load lining up out of the backfield.
Fourth round pick B: Tre Boston, CB/S, North Carolina
He has a ton of range and is a ballhawk.
Fifth round pick: Aaron Murray, QB, Georgia
Sixth round pick: Keith Price, QB, Washington
These guys are similar. Neither will blow you away with physical tools, but both have enough to succeed. They both have a lot of starting experience in pro style offenses, Murray four years, Price three years. That is a good thing. Both are a tad undersized but great competitors. Murray is coming off a torn ACL. Price had a monster sophomore year capped by a bowl shootout where he matched touchdowns with Robert Griffin III. He has worked with fellow undersized quarterback Russell Wilson. I’m buying two lottery tickets on day three guys who have skills that could potentially translate to NFL starter.
I, John Idzik, declared at my introductory press conference a year ago that competition at every position would be the mantra of the New York Jets organization. Geno Smith didn’t do enough in his rookie year to avoid competition. He can win the starting job, but he has to earn it. He has to compete against a veteran in Hill and prospects Murray and Price. The best of the four starts. The worst of the four gets cut. Would I cut a second round pick from a year ago? You bet if he doesn’t earn his spot on the roster.
Seventh round pick A: Colt Lyerla, TE, Oregon
Character concerns don’t begin to describe this guy. He quit on his team and got arrested for drugs. He’s also a tight end with a 40 time in the 4.5 range. The seventh round is a spot for a guy like this. If we can help him get his act together, we are going to give teams matchup nightmares with three tight end looks. If he doesn’t, most seventh round picks don’t pan out anyway.
Seventh round pick B: Zach Kerr, DT, Delaware
Another big, athletic, small school project for the coaching staff.
Seventh round pick C: Avery Williamson, ILB, Kentucky
Prolific in the box run defender with over 100 tackles in two straight years.
A few tweaks at the bottom of the roster and with contracts will round out the offseason. Guys like Bilal Powell will be cut if nobody gets hurt in the preseason. Guys like Barnes will be cut if the rookies are ready to displace him.
After all of that, I’m sure you’re all ready to yell at me the way Frank Costanza yelled at George Steinbrenner for trading Jay Buhner.