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Fixing the Jets: Assessing Barnwell’s Five-Point Plan

Buffalo Bills v New York Jets Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

ESPN’s Bill Barnwell is offering five offseason suggestions for each NFL team. In a recent article, he gave his advice to AFC East teams. Let’s take a look at his Jets suggestions.

Clean house.

We have been discussing this since the middle of the season or so. Because of the way NFL contracts work, most free agent deals can be escaped after two years with minimal pain. That means the Jets free agent class of 2015 can be largely wiped off the books. There are also some 2016 signees like Steve McLendon who could create cap space if cut.

There isn’t much doubt the Jets will make cuts. There isn’t much doubt cuts are necessary. The questions are how deep the cuts will be and what priorities the Jets will make after their cuts. If they gut the entire roster, they could create around $70 million in new cap space. They also wouldn’t have starters at an enormous number of positions. After the cuts, will the Jets spend to the cap? Will they be more targeted, leaving some cap space in reserve? Will they stay out of free agency and go full rebuild?

I think the middle course is the way to go. I don’t have any strong preferences about the Jets cutting veterans, but I do think they should invest in the offense to support a potentially young quarterback and sprinkle in a veteran or two on defense. I don’t think they should go all-in, but I also am skeptical of how smart it is to put no talent on the field.

Cut CB Darrelle Revis if he doesn't accept a pay cut.

I would have to disagree with Barnwell on this one. Revis simply wasn’t an effective player in 2016. It started Week 1 with the show A.J. Green put on and seldom stopped. Barnwell suggests $8 million would be an appropriate price to keep Revis. I just don’t see it.

We all remember how great Revis used to be. Those days are gone, though.

If you watched film of Revis this season or looked at the numbers, I doubt you would consider keeping that player at $8 million if the name “Darrelle Revis” wasn’t attached.

This isn’t a very difficult decision. The Jets should move on and clear a roster spot for somebody who could be part of the future.

Trade Sheldon Richardson.

This one will certainly be controversial because it is a bad move from a pure talent perspective. The Jets will never get equal value back in a trade, particularly with Richardson’s production way down.

If the Jets are serious about starting over, this might be the type of move they need to make. It is just always something with Richardson. In the last two years, he has been suspended twice. He intentionally misled the Jets about an off field incident. He was benched for being late to team meetings. He had the Snapchat video. He brought a locker room issue into the public view. It just never ends with this guy.

This would all be one thing if he was pulling his weight on the field. He hasn’t been, though. I think when you have a talent like Richardson, you want to make excuses. You blame the coaches for not maximizing his ability. You say the fans are understating his performance. Let me throw a stat line at you, though.

1 penalty, 0 tackles

Richardson had that stat line not once but twice in 2016. For that to happen multiple times is tough to fathom. At some point, it is the player’s fault.

Here’s the reality of Richardson that is tough to admit. For all of his talent and for all of his hype, he has played like a genuine star exactly once in his career, the 2014 season. Yes, he won the Rookie of the Year in 2013, but he was really only effective against the run. It was a weak rookie class, and good for a rookie does not equal star.

You love the talent, but at some point it becomes irrelevant if you don’t use it and you constantly cause problems otherwise.

Resist the urge to do something significant at quarterback.

This one is interesting because I have had a similar thought, but Barnwell’s definition of something significant is different from mine.

It also would seem foolish to commit to Deshaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky with their first-round pick out of desperation, although such a selection would be more plausible in the second round.

I think the Jets need to be in the market for a quarterback in the Draft. You need one to win in the NFL, and neither quarterback currently under contract has shown enough to make me feel like the Jets are set. The only reason the Jets should pass on a quarterback with the sixth pick is that they have evaluated that there is no quarterback worthy of being taken so high.

Meanwhile, Barnwell shows he has a very different idea of the free agent market than I do.

If the Jets gave (Mike) Glennon $8 million for 2017 and tacked on a couple of extra unguaranteed years in the $12-15 million range that they could use if Glennon works out, it could be a logical short-term solution with some hope of it sticking in the years to come.

That makes plenty of sense for the Jets, but I think Barnwell is really underestimating how desperate teams are at the quarterback position. I can’t imagine Glennon getting a deal so small.

I agree in general that the Jets shouldn’t spend big in free agency at the position because nobody available is a genuine long-term solution. By spending big, I mean committing to more than one year. Any contract should have an escape hatch after a year.

I’d be willing to pay extra in 2017 for a better option like Tyrod Taylor or Glennon over Brian Hoyer or Josh McCown. They are better. The Jets also have a better shot than you think of making a Playoff push in a fairly weak AFC if you add decent quarterback play to smart free agency, a solid Draft, and a little luck. I’d rather take a lesser quarterback in Hoyer, however, if I had to give Taylor or Glennon more than one year.

There has been plenty of discussion about hot seats and whether the Jets are in it for the long haul with this regime. I think their handling of the quarterback class in free agency might be an indication. Is there a cautious approach, or do they make a ridiculous deal throwing money at Taylor or Glennon to try to stabilize the position for the short run?

Solve the tight end problem.

The Jets clearly haven’t gotten much from the tight end position over the last few years. It could use an upgrade.

I’m not totally convinced this is a big issue, though. It depends on the moves the Jets make. If they keep Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker around, I’m not convinced a tight end has a big role in the passing game. You have Marshall, Decker, Quincy Enunwa, Robby Anderson to go with Bilal Powell and Matt Forte out of the backfield. There are only so many targets to go around.

Sure, the Jets should still look to upgrade. Barnwell offers a few names.

Solving doesn't mean paying top dollar for Bennett, but the Jets can piece together a moderate platoon without spending too much. Luke Willson has flashed as a second tight end in Seattle and could hold some upside in a larger role. Rhett Ellison is an above-average blocking tight end who should be better in 2017 as he gets further away from tearing his patella in January 2016.

There aren’t many silver linings about being so bad at a position, but one definitely is that almost anybody will be an upgrade.