Philosophy: A quick point I’d like to explain before I begin.
If I’m going to pretend to be Idizik, I’m going to pretend I have the same timeframe as him. What I mean by this is, I can’t ignore an important need, like say wide receiver, just because I know I’m going to mock draft one. What if the draft has a run on receivers early on and leaves it weak come Jets turn to draft? So the idea is to fill all the needs possible through FA/trading so the draft can be used to load the team with talent rather than handcuff the Jets into taking a particular position.
Mark Sanchez: Saving 8 million dollars of cap space for Mark seems like an obvious choice
Santonio Holmes: Another 8 million saved for a receiver who’s injury problems left him a shell of his former self
Antonio Cromartie: Unlike the first two, Cro is a good contributor to the team but 9.5 million is definitely worth attempting to replace him with a younger or cheaper option
Nick Folk: Franchise Tag: 3.556 million
Austin Howard: 4 years for 18.4 million, 4.5 million guaranteed. 2014 cap hit: 4.35 million
Darrin Walls: 1 year for 645k
Isaiah Trufant: 1 year for 645k
Josh Cribbs: 1 year for 855k
Leger Douzable: 2 years for 1.7 million. 2014 cap hit: 780k
Willie Colon: 1 year for 1.5 million
Josh Mauga: 1 year for 730k
Why I Re-signed them- Nick Folk has already been tagged by the Jets. It could be suggested to extend him to lower his cap hit but I’m not interested in putting long term investment into a position that lends itself to a high turnover rate. Austin Howard could command a lot of money on the open market so locking him up before he hits free agency is important. Walls and Trufant provide important depth. Cribbs provided a spark for last year’s team, hopefully can be cut in training camp. Douzable was a small but important part of the rotation that was a dominant defensive line so we will have to pay slightly more than minimum to keep him on board. Colon has made good progress on his injury and is likely ready to start, while Mauga is solid depth.
Why I didn’t re-sign the rest- Old players like Reed, Winslow, and Pace will cost more than the minimum for play that can be replaced by younger bodies with more potential. Cumberland was the toughest decision but rumors say he wants to get paid like a starting tight end and that’s too much for a player of his skillset.
Cap Space: $39,999,216
As a GM, I would take a long look at Jimmy Graham. I do believe a player of his caliber that can transform an offense by himself can be worth the 2 first round picks. But I can’t justify destroying the cap space for him because not only do I have to meet Jimmy Graham’s desires but I also have to bid high enough that the Saints don’t match the offer. This is too high for any non-franchise quarterback player.
Jairus Byrd: 5 years for 45 million, 27.5 million guaranteed, 2014 cap hit: 10 million
After mentioning Graham and now Byrd, it is easy to assume that I would pay any big time free agent. So let me explain my philosophy towards free agency. Imagine a fantasy football auction draft. If you’ve ever been in one, you know that at least the first four rounds are way overpaid. But if you’ve decided you refuse to overpay for anyone, you will end up with a team with lots of depth but not enough star power to win. Conversely, if you overpay for too many stars, your team won’t have the depth to succeed. It’s about balance and so is free agency. I would agree this deal overpays Byrd. But since he’s a playmaking safety that can help lift the Jets to the next level, I feel like it’s worth overpaying. Byrd helps the Jets defense in their two weakest areas: pass coverage and turnovers. I feel turnovers have been the number one thing lacking from the Jets defense in the Rex Ryan years and Byrd helps that area immensely.
Since the next is mostly depth, I will organize by position:
My favorite option is Josh McCown but I fear he will be way overpaid for one good set of games.
Tarvaris Jackson: 2 years for 1.8 million. 2014 cap hit: 900k
Tarvaris Jackson is not a good quarterback. He is probably a below average backup quarterback. So why sign him? Because if Geno Smith isn’t the answer, the Jets aren’t going anywhere anyway. I dare you to look at a free agent quarterback and have confidence that the quarterback can lead the Jets to the playoffs and beyond. Especially not long term. Either Geno is the answer, or quarterback becomes a huge need for the draft next year.
Golden Tate: 3 years for 15 million, 5 million guaranteed. 2014 cap hit: 6 million
Hakeem Nicks: 2 years for 11 million. 2014 cap hit: 6 million
As long as our offense doesn’t have playmakers, our team won’t be able to succeed. Nicks and Tate have both already proven to be successful in the 1a,b role where they can succeed if they have other talent around them. This also helps Kerley have space in the slot. I believe they complement each other as Nicks is a solid possession receiver with big hands with over 70 catches in his good seasons and Tate as the speedy playmaker who can catch screens and get yardage after the catch.
Scott Chandler: 2 year for 5 million. 2014 cap hit: 3 million
Ben Hartsock: 2 years for 2 million. 2014 cap hit: 1 million
Chandler provides a red zone target although not a lot else. Hartsock can’t catch a pass but he provides dominate blocking which really just makes him an extra lineman. This doesn’t seem like a big addition but I think the extra blocker will help bring our running game back to where it’s been.
Parys Haralson: 2 year for 2.5 million. 2014 cap hit: 1.5 million
Haralson is a run stuffing linebacker to compliment Barnes. He isn’t spectacular, but does a good job against the run and will be cheap.
Walter Thurmond: 3 years for 6 million. 2014 cap hit: 2 million
Rashean Mathis: 1 year for .95 million. 2014 cap hit: .95 million
There are a lot of top quality cornerbacks on the free agent market who are all projected to make 7 million or more per year. The Jets were moderately successful without a number one cornerback last year as Cromartie was either injured or struggling throughout the year and so this is focusing on making sure their depth is of high quality.
After free agency, the offense remains similar. The major change is as the wide receiver position. It was a major weakness and is now looking like a complete group. Tight end continues to be a weakness. For the defense, the cornerback position lacks a number one cornerback but has more quality depth while the safety position is immensely boosted with the playmaking Jairus Byrd.
Cap room: 12,459,216
I’ll admit I don’t watch much college football, so I was relying heavily on other mock drafts, googling scouting reports and watching highlights on YouTube. Secondly, my main goal was to draft BPA, regardless of position. I used DraftTek heavily, although I checked with other mock drafts.
Trade: Jets trade R1, R6 picks to SD for their R1, R3, R4 picks so SD can select Nix.
I don’t like reaching in the first round and no one being mocked in those five spots around us interested me, so I moved down and stocked up more picks.
R1 (25): Odell Beckham Jr. WR
Beckham has a few characteristics that I love to see in a wide receiver. One is top flight fluidity and route running. Another is his ability to beat press coverage. A lot of young receivers struggle transitioning to the pro game when they start getting pressed, being able to beat that will be a huge plus. He is also quick, not fast, but quick. I don’t think straight line speed is nearly as important as being able to be quick and the game tape shows that Beckham is quick; quick enough to make people miss and quick enough to get open. Lastly, I always like prospects who are called smart.
R2 (49): Cyrus Kouandjio OT
Kouandjio preformed terribly at the combine. This is why he dropped out of the first round and is able to be drafted by the Jets here. While the combine is a nice tool, I’d much rather look at how he played before hand. Scouting reports tell me he has a strong leg drive along with quick feet and long arms. He is also said to be intelligent with the major concerns being his combine performance and his knee injury. But the Jets don’t need Kouandjio to step in right away, as they are currently set at both the tackle positions.
R3 (69): Tre Mason RB
Sounds like a complete back, a one cut and go runner who is patient and has good vision. Has ability to make defenders miss and run over defenders. Pass catching isn’t developed yet but his skill set lends him to be.
R3 (80): Brandon Coleman WR
This man is big and knows how to use it. He is 6 foot 6, weighting in at 220 pounds with reasonable speed for his size. He can be a possession receiver although he isn’t likely to get loads of separation; he can develop into a big time possession receiver. Think Marques Colston potential.
Jets trade R3 (89) and R7 to Pittsburgh for 2015 R2 (so Pittsburgh can draft Fiedorowicz)
The Jets are loaded at picks, and after searching for a few names drafting around the area and not liking what I see, I make a move to set myself up for the future by adding in a second round pick.
R4 (111): Marcus Smith OLB
Unlike a lot of other defensive ends that translate to OLB in the NFL, Smith actually has experience in coverage and has shown to be good at it (good at zone, lacking at man coverage but still way better than most OLB prospects). Again, unlike other prospects, he isn’t just a speed rusher. He can win his matchups with speed and with power.
R4 (121): Billy Turner OG
Played tackle in college but struggled with slide protection. Didn’t allow a sack and got to the second level in run blocking. Projects well as an offensive guard
R5 (142): Aaron Murray QB
Smart, accurate passer who fits well into a west coast scheme.
R5 (Comp): Colt Lyerla TE
Grossly talented but troubled, this is the time of the draft to try out the big risk, big reward type players and few players fit that label better than Lyerla.
Trade: Stephen Hill to the San Francisco 49ers for conditional 2015 6th round pick. Pick becomes 2015 5th round pick if Hill has at least 400 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Stephen Hill is suddenly far behind on the depth chart and might as well be traded while he still has value.
While the team is set up to be successful this year, it is also definitely set up to be successful in the future. Most of the deals involve front loading contracts and 2015 2nd and 6th round picks were acquired. It uses a lot of this year’s cap (that’s what the cap is there for!) while still leaving place for next year. Here’s the approximate depth chart:
QB: G Smith, T Jackson, A Murray, M Simms
RB: C Ivory, T Mason, B Powell, M Goodson, A Green
FB: T Bohannon
WR: H Nicks, G Tate, J Kerley, O Beckham Jr, B Coleman, D Nelson, G Salas
TE: S Chandler, B Hartsock, C Lyerla, Z Sudfield
OT: D Ferguson, A Howard, C Kouandjio, O Aboushi
OG: W Colon, B Winters, B Turner, W Campbell
C: N Mangold, D Freeman
DE: M Wilkerson, S Richardson, L Douzable
DT: D Harrison, K Ellis
OLB: Q Coples, A Barnes, P Haralson, M Smith, J Cunningham
ILB: D Harris, D Davis, J Mauga
CB: D Milliner, W Thurmond, K Wilson, R Mathis, D Walls, I Trufant, J Patrick
S: J Byrd, D Landry, A Allen, J Jarrett, J Bush
K/P/LS: N Folk, R Quigley, T Purdum