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Just how important is the new stadium as the Jets approach the draft?

By Russ H.

Mark Sanchez, Brady Quinn, Jason Campbell, Anquan Boldin, Braylon Edwards.  The Jets are clearly moving in big circles in terms of name recognition as we head towards the 74th NFL Draft this Saturday, but are the Jets looking to build the best team or the most marketable team. 

As the Detroit Lions move closer and closer to making Georgia QB Matthew Stafford the first overall selection in tomorrow's NFL Draft with a contract offer that is expected to exceed $40M in guaranteed money all 32 teams will be busy trying to improve their teams by drafting players they hope will fill their particular needs.  But are those needs limited to just improving the product on the football field, or are they also trying to improve the business module as well?

The Jets and Giants are partners in a new football stadium being built in the Meadowlands that will open in 2010, but with both teams trying to sell PSL's to their respective fan bases one has to wonder just how much of the planning that goes into the draft have to do with improving the team and how much does the business end of things play into the draft?

The Jets currently have Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Erik Ainge as the QBs on their current roster, of the three only Clemens has ever taken a snap in a regular season game so you can understand why the Jets staff may not want to trust their investment of the $120M or so the Jets currently have tied up in salary in the hands of three so inexperienced QBs.

If that's the case why are they willing to pay more in both draft picks and salary to possibly draft Mark Sanchez or trade for Brady Quinn, both of whom have even less experience then the QB's the Jets already have?  You would have to think that all things being equal normally the Jets front office would prefer to play the hand they already have before sinking even more money and trading more picks into another QB with an even more incomplete NFL resume.

But these are not normal times.

The rumor mill has the Jets are considering making a trade for Browns QB Brady Quinn or possibly trading up in the draft to try and acquire USC QB Mark Sanchez.   Brady Quinn, the 22nd overall pick of the 2007 NFL Draft, has spent most of the past two season playing behind Derek Anderson.

Quinn, 24 years old, got into one game his rookie season, completing 3/8 passes in mop up duty of a season ending win and started three games last season in relief of an ineffective Anderson before a season ending injury ended Quinns' sophomore season.  All together Quinn has a 1-2 record as a starter and his career stats look like this:  48/97  49.5 comp%  563 yds.  2TD/2INT QB rating of 65.8.

These numbers tell us very little about Quinn.  His reputation as an NFL QB is that his accuracy needs work but because he ran a pro offense at Notre Dame many of those around him believe he has the necessary tools to become a good NFL QB.  What Quinn's resume and his outlook as an NFL QB don't tell us is how does that put him ahead of Kellen Clemens?

Clemens, 25 years old, behind an awful offensive line, was 3-6 as a starter for the Jets back in 2007.  His numbers are as follows:  133/256  52 comp%, 1,555 yds 5TD/11INT QB rating of 59.3.

These numbers don't tell us very much about Clemens either, yet for some reason Brady Quinn is apparently ahead of Kellen Clemens on the Jet depth chart  without having ever even taken a snap as a Jet QB. 

 It tells us even less about why Sanchez, who has only started 16 games in college, is ahead of Clemens on the depth chart without having ever even taken a snap as an NFL QB.

Why is that?  One word folks, marketability.  Why is marketability a reason to slide Quinn and Sanchez ahead of Clemens?  One acronym folks, PSL's.  Personal Seating Licenses.

In the NYC metropolitan area the acronym PSL has become all to often spoken in these parts recently.  The Yankees, Mets, Giants and Jets are all charging their fans a whole lot of money for the privilege of seeing your favorite teams live in their new sports palaces.

While baseball teams don't actually sell PSL to their fans they've more than made up for that by charging ginormous amounts of money for the good seats in their new palaces which has led to big tracks of empty premium seats during the first two+ weeks of the baseball season.  At least with baseball you have the option of watching the game at home if you can't afford the cost of a ticket.  That may not be the case with football.

What happens when the average Jets and Giants fan can no longer afford their old tickets in the new building?  Both teams have tried to help their loyal fans in ways best suited to each team but the PSL will still no doubt drive thousands of fans from both teams out of the new stadium.  When that happens, and if those seats which used to be affordable to most fans now become affordable to far less fans, those NFL fans may not even be able to watch the game at home because of the NFL blackout rule.

New York football fans have never had to worry about being unable to see their teams home games on television, games were always sold out and their were  thousands of fans on waiting lists eager to snap up tickets should they ever become available.  That may no longer be the case anymore.

You have to wonder how much of whatever happens in tomorrows' NFL draft will be about putting the best team on the field and how much will it be about putting the most marketable team on the field.  Both sides of the coin are more or less about the same thing, a better team is a more marketable team, but when the Jets draft room is at lager heads about what to do with a particular player or a particular pick how things used to get decided was who was ultimately best fit for the team.  Now, in view of 21st century economics, who looks the best on the front of the yearbook may be the deciding factor.

Woody Johnson has made no secret of his desire to, as he put it, "never again go into a season without having a big armed QB".  Let's hope he puts what's in the best interest of the team before what's in the best interest of his own bottom line".