Two of my biggest passions in this world are the New York Jets and the New York Knicks. As a guy born in the early 1990's, I naturally connect sports to sorrow. With the Knicks losing in a special sort of way this season, I could really go for a miracle season by the Jets. So, while this plan may not be the most foolproof down the line, I think it'll make the season 1000 times more exciting and possibly elevate us to potential Super Bowl candidates. Of course, it could crash and burn. But all I want is a chance to make the big game, and I'd rather go out burning than go out not having tried. Here is what I propose:
- CB Antonio Cromartie (Saves $9.5 Mil)
- QB Mark Sanchez (Saves $8.3 Mil)
- WR Santonio Holmes (Saves $8.25 Mil)
- RB Mike Goodson (Saves $1.3 Mil)
- RB Alex Green (Saves $.65 Mil)
- WR Clyde Gates (Saves $.65 Mil)
- WR Michael Campbell (Save $.5 Mil)
- P Ryan Quiqley (Save $.5 Mil)
- TE Chris Pantale (Save $.5 Mil)
- TE Zach Sudfield (Save $.5 Mil)
- OG Caleb Schlauderaff (Save $.65 Mil)
- WR Salim Haakim (Save $.5 Mil)
- WR Greg Salas (Save $.65 Mil)
RT Austin Howard (16 Mil over 4 Years)
Howard gets a deal that will pay him $4 Million annually. Right around market price, if not a little above it. I value continuity on the line, and Howard has done a fine job over the last few years. With a volatile situation at both guard spots, we need Howard back.
OLB Calvin Pace ($955,000) [Vet's Min]
Pace gets a one year deal to stick around as a backup. With a very dry OLB market in free agency, we could do worse.
RG Willie Colon (1.25 Mil, only half guaranteed)
Colon gets 1.25 Mil, which is above the Veteran Minimum but a team-friendly deal in my opinion. This is a likely outcome because of his injury, and his extensive injury history. Will compete to start at either OG position.
- CB Ellis Lankster ($730,000)
- DL Leger Douzable ($730,000)
- CB Aaron Berry ($730,000)
LB Josh Mauga ($730,000)
LB Garrett McIntyre ($645,000)
- CB Darrin Walls ($645,000)
- CB Isaiah Trufant ($645,000)
Going into free agency, we would have: $43,494,724 to swing around.
FS Jairus Byrd (36 Mil/4 Years) (2014: $9 Mil)
Byrd is ranked as the best free agent on the market by NFL.com, and happens to fit a huge need. His camp is apparently seeking to best the contract that Dashon Goldson signed last season ($8.25 Mil per season), and this would do just that. It would make him the highest paid free safety in the league (only Troy Polamalu makes more, but he's listed as a strong safety). Being that Byrd is only 27 and has only missed 7 games in his 5 year career, I feel comfortable offering a long deal, especially for a perennial pro-bowler and one of the game's best ballhawks.
WR Golden Tate (20 Mil/4 Years) (2014: $5 Mil)
Pass on the top receivers to take a cheaper, but still productive option. I do not consider Eric Decker a true #1, and if we are signing a #2 receiver I'd rather take the cheaper option who can improve his stats (coming from a run-heavy offense) than the expensive option whose stats were probably inflated. Tate is great after the catch and can certainly open things up for Geno. Adds value as a strong run blocker, and instantly becomes the team's best receiver. The best thing about him? He's only 25 and has only missed 1 game in the last 3 seasons.
CB Alterraun Verner (28 Mil/4 Years) (2014: $5 Mil)
With Cro cut, cornerback becomes a pretty sizable hole. Verner gets $7 Mil on average, but back-loaded, with $5 Mil this year. Verner was one of the best corners in the league last season, is only 25, and is very durable. He is on his way up, so while this contract may not seem too team-friendly now, it may be a relative bargain by the end of the deal, even though it is back-loaded.
TE Brandon Pettigrew (14 Mil/4 Years) (2014: $3.5 Mil)
The former first round pick has had some good seasons and some bad ones, most recently a very mediocre 2013 that saw him catch only 41 balls for 416 yards and 2 TD. He's never been a huge red-zone target but he's an every down tight end, and a pretty decent one at that. His bad contract year makes him affordable at $3.5 Mil per season.
OG Jon Asamoah ($10.5 Mil/3 Years) (2014: $3.5 Mil)
He fell out of favor last season in Kansas City, losing playing time and eventually his starting job. However, he has consistently been one of the better pass-blocking guards over the last few years, and his struggles last year were likely due to a poor fit with the new system. At $3.5 Mil, he's a fair value. Truth told, he might come even cheaper.
QB Shaun Hill ($5 Mil/2 Years) (2014: $3.5 Mil)
No quarterback on the market is a difference maker, but Shaun Hill is solid and can fill his role his well. Hill represents a viable backup to Geno, in that he can both mentor the young QB and fill in if needed. He has had success at the NFL level and can still lead a team, although we are in trouble if we need him to start for any long stretch of games. He can also push Geno in practice far better than guys like David Garrard and/or Matt Simms could. Best of all, he's not Mark Brunell.
TE John Carlson ($730,000/1 Year)
Just cut by the Vikings, Carlson has a track record of success in the NFL but was disappointing in Minnesota. Will be 30 by the time the season starts, and has an extensive history of concussions in the NFL. On a one year flier with little money guaranteed, Carlson could be a very useful player as the #2 or #3 tight end. Plus, John Idzik is familiar with him from their Seattle days.
P Pat McAfee (10.5 Mil/3 Years) (2014: $3.5 Mil)
I personally am tired of watching Quigley shank kicks all over the field. McAfee has been one of the best punters in the league over the last few years and will get paid like a top-5 guy. He didn't have the best season last year, but he does handle kickoffs as well, something that Nick Folk has struggled with in the past. Limiting our mistakes on special teams will go a long way.
Going into draft, we'd have slightly under $15 Million left over. Realistically, it'd be good to keep $10 mil open for the draft and for players that may become available later on. However...
Here's where things get interesting. Unable to sign a true game-changer on the offensive side of the ball and exceedingly impatient (as the intro explained), I am not happy with the team going into the year. Sure, this would be an improved team, but very marginally so. Here is what I propose:
Sign Saints TE Jimmy Graham to 6 Year, $60 Mil Contract. More than 40% guaranteed)
A few days ago, the Saints decided to apply the non-exclusive franchise tag to Jimmy Graham. While they battle over whether he is a tight end or a wide receiver, the Jets can swoop in and offer him the highest contract offer of any tight end in the NFL (Rob Gronkowski signed for 6 years/$53 Mil), and one that would pay him like a top 5 wide receiver. How can the Jets do this? Since the Saints applied the non-exclusive tag, the Jets can negotiate with Graham, but would have to concede 2 first round draft picks if he signs. A guy like Graham never comes across the free agent wire. Two first round picks are a heavy price to pay, but Graham makes the Jets instantly respectable on offense, and thus very much a Super Bowl contender. Since I expect a deep playoff run anyway, it is essentially the #18 pick this year and a late 20's pick next year. Yes, its mortgaging the future, but we haven't had a player of Graham's caliber wearing green and white for quite a while.
Going into the draft with around $5 Mil of the 2014 cap unused.
2014 NFL Draft
Round 2 (Pick 18) WR Kelvin Benjamin: Do I think Benjamin will be available in the second round? No, I personally don't. But the rules of this game state that we are going by reputable mock drafts, and most mock drafts have him falling out of the first round. In fact, of CBS.com's group of mock drafts, only 2 of their 5 "experts" have Benjamin in the first round. That means 3 reputable journalists consider Benjamin a second round pick, and in this fantasy, that works very well. Realistically, Benjamin will probably be gone but one of the top 5 receivers should still be on the board, whether its Beckham Jr., Cooks, Lee, or Benjamin. If he is there in the 2nd round, it is because of the insane depth of this wide receiver class. Adding Benjamin would instantly add a credible receiver to the roster, one who has all the tools to become a productive starter in this league. ($780,545 against the cap)
Round 3 (Pick 69) OLB/DE Jeremiah Attaochu: CBS has him ranked as the #64 overall prospect, likely to go either late 2nd or early 3rd. That is right in the range of our first 3rd round pick, and we will jump on the opportunity. Attaochu has been a pass-rushing demon for the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, both standing up and occasionally with his hand in the ground. He has the versatility that Rex likes out of his linemen. He is not great in coverage and very mediocre in run support, but he can get after the quarterback and that is something that we have missed out of our linebackers recently. If Calvin Pace recorded 10 sacks last year, Attaochu could have done that in his sleep behind the same defensive line. ($591,023 against the cap)
Round 3 (Pick 80) WR Donte Moncrief: Big, physical, and an extremely fluid route-runner, Moncrief will surprise some people in the NFL. He's moving up the boards after a nice combine, but at present he is valued as a 3rd rounder. He has great hands and could provide a very nice target for Geno Smith. People questioned his speed, but a 4.4 40-yard dash at the Combine silenced those concerns. ($569,719 against the cap).
Round 4 (Pick 111) ILB Lamin Barrow: We are pretty thin at linebacker behind David Harris and Demario Davis, and Lamin Barrow is the type of talent worth taking a flyer on at this point in the draft. CBS has him ranked as the #142 player on their big board, and a 4th-5th round pick. He's one of the best run-stoppers in this draft and is pretty athletic, but he has concerns in coverage and hasn't been effective blitzing. He has the skills to develop into a solid all-around player, and would be a worthy backup at this point. ($532,725 against the cap).
Round 5 (Pick 142) RB/WR/KR Dri Archer: I know that our resident Salmon considers Dri Archer a 3rd round pick, but CBS.com has him pegged as a 5th-6th round guy. While I think interest in Archer will start to pick up closer to the early 4th round, according to CBS.com I'd be overdrafting Archer with the 142 pick. Regardless of where he gets drafted, I'd love to get Archer on this team. He'd add a change of pace to the offense that we are sorely lacking, along with explosiveness in the return game. For the purpose of this game, he's a 5th round pick, as that is where he's mocked on numerous sites. In real life, he's one of my top draft targets and I probably would part with a 3rd round pick to get him. $467,938 against the cap).
Round 5 (COMPENSATORY PICK) OG Chris Watt: Even though we actually have a bunch of late round picks, this is the last pick that we are allowed in "AGOP", so I tried to find someone who could compete for a starting job right away. Watt plays nasty and leaves it all on the field, but his reflexes and footwork hold him back in pass protection. He is a three-year starter with a ton of big game experience, so it is not outside of the realm of possibility that he could beat out Brian Winters and/or Willie Colon as early as this summer.
In all, the draft picks' salaries are worth about $3.4 Mil against the cap, leaving almost $2 Mil left over.
Note: Veterans will eventually need to be cut. For instance, there is no way we will carry 6 safeties into the season. Cutting Dawan Landry for instance would save $1.5 Mil
Proposed 2014-2015 New York Jets Roster:
QB: Geno Smith, Shaun Hill, Matt Simms
RB: Chris Ivory, Bilal Powell, Dri Archer
FB: Tommy Bohanon
WR: Golden Tate, Kelvin Benjamin, Jeremy Kerley, Donte Moncrief, David Nelson, Stephen Hill
TE: Jimmy Graham, Brandon Pettigrew, John Carlson
LT: D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Ben Ijalana
LG: Brian Winters, Willie Colon, Chris Watt
C: Nick Mangold, Dalton Freeman
RG: Jon Asamoah, Willie Colon
RT: Austin Howard, Oday Aboushi
DL: Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, Leger Douzable, Kenrick Ellis, Jermaine Cunningham
OLB: Quinton Coples, Antwan Barnes, Jeremiah Attaochu, Calvin Pace, Garret McIntyre
ILB: David Harris, Demario Davis, Lamin Barrow, Nick Bellore, Josh Mauga
CB: Alterraun Verner, Dee Milliner, Kyle Wilson, Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant
SS: Antonio Allen, Dawan Landry, Rontez Miles
FS: Jairus Byrd, Josh Bush, Jaiquawn Jarrett
K: Nick Folk
P: Pat McAfee
I'm gong all in. What do you think?