With free agency looming in less than 24 hours and the Jets seemingly destined to be mostly bit players, what's a Jets fan to root for? Here are three AFC East deals we should be able to get behind.
1. New England Patriots sign Wes Welker to a long term deal. Just to throw a number out there, let's say 5 years, $38 million with an $18 million signing bonus. Why on earth should Jets fans root for the Patriots to sign Welker? Welker is a great player. He is particularly great playing with Tom Brady, who the Patriots just locked up for the next 5 years. Do we really want that tandem together to torment us for another 5 years? Well, yes, and here's why. As great as Welker's been, he'll be 32 on May 1. Locking him up for 5 years, even if he's cut after 4, would be a bad deal for the Pats. The Jets are destined not to compete for the division crown in 2013, and very likely not even for a wild card spot. That means whatever damage Welker does in 2013 is largely irrelevant to Jets fans. And by 2014 he will be 33, undoubtedly in decline and still taking up serious cap space for the Pats for 4 more years. That's the kind of long term damaging deal the Pats rarely do, but may be inclined to consider to get one last bite at the apple in Brady's waning years. If our opponents are doing long term damage to themselves, that is in our best interests, so here's hoping the Pats sign Welker to the most expensive, longest term deal he can squeeze out of them. Which brings us to
2. The Miami Dolphins sign Mike Wallace to a long term deal. Again, to throw a number out there, let's say 5 years, $50 million, $25 million in guarantees. That's a tad less than Dwayne Bowe just signed for, so it's probably somewhere in the right neighborhood. So why should we root for the Dolphins to improve their team with one of the best WRs in free agency? And one who is just 26 years old to boot? Well, it's true, this deal would improve the Dolphins. And Wallace is in fact one of the best FA wide receivers on the market. So the benefits of such a signing for the Jets are not immediately apparent. But it comes down to this. Every team only has so much in terms of cap space to spend and no more. Miami has plenty to spend. They WILL spend most of it, one way or another. Their mega $ WILL bring back some good players. So the best we can hope for as Jets fans is that the money is not spent wisely. And I think this deal for a very one dimensional Wallace is money spent unwisely. Wallace does one thing -- run down the field as fast as he can, which is faster than almost anyone else in football, and hope he catches a long pass. He really isn't much good for anything else. He has bad hands, is a bad route runner, and is not good in traffic. Now if he were a young Randy Moss, he would be worth the money. But he's no Randy Moss, and he's not worth whatever money the team that signs him is likely to give him. The Mike Wallace contract is very likely to be a bad one for his new team. In addition, he is the type of receiver the Jets have not had alot of trouble shutting down, whether with Revis or Cromartie. If the Dolphins have money to spend, then we should root for them to spend it badly. So join me aboard the Wallace to the Fins bandwagon.
That leaves only two AFC East teams to consider: the Bills and our own Jets. So let's deal with them in one fell swoop.
3. The Jets sign Andy Levitre to a 6 year, $45 million contract with $20 million in guarantees. The Bills cannot use the franchise tag on Levitre because they have already used it on Jairus Byrd. Yes, I know, the Jets have little cap space to work such a miracle. That's why you make it a 6 year deal. Have a relatively modest signing bonus and a much larger option bonus in year 2, when the Jets can afford the cap hit. Levitre is one of the league's best young guards, and at age 26, a 6 year deal would only take him through the age of 31, when he should still be productive. If the Jets can limit the cap hit in 2013 to between $3 and $4 million and backload the hit to the next 5 years when cap space opens up, the Jets have 3 fifths of a dominant offensive line for the next 4 years or so. If the Jets can manage to find a really good tackle or guard in the draft in 2013 or 2014, suddenly our offensive line returns to dominance. All while dealing a significant blow to our AFC East rivals the Bills. This is the kind of signing the Jets need to make happen with their limited 2013 cap space. Young, proven, top level talent at an inexpensive position. That's how to build a winner with limited dollars.
So there they are, 3 deals to root for in the AFC East as free agency unfolds.
What about you? What deals do you want to see made by the Jets or their rivals?