The Jets are a few days from reporting to training camp. Here are five questions worth asking.
- Will Sheldon Richardson be traded?
The Jets are in a bit of a dilemma with the former Defensive Rookie of the Year. He is in the final year of his contract and has made it no secret he wants a big payday. Over the last two years, he has shown himself to be unreliable both on and off the field, and the coaching staff has shown little understanding of how to maximize his abilities.
The Jets have three options.
A. Give him a huge contract extension.
B. Trade him to at least get something in value rather than letting him leave as a free agent in a year.
C. Let things play out and hope for a bounceback season that would justify using the franchise tag after the season.
Option A shouldn’t a viable option given Richardson’s decreased production, off field behavior, and the coaching staff’s inability to use him correctly.
Option C is risky. If Richardson plays well enough to merit the tag, the Jets could use it and at least keep their options open. If he doesn’t, they probably will lose him for nothing in a year. Given the amount of cap space the team has, the Jets are unlikely to even net a compensatory Draft pick for losing Richardson as they seem likely to spend in free agency in 2018.
That leaves Option B as the most viable option on paper. It would be a bit unconventional to wait until training camp to make a deal, but the Jets haven’t been tied to a conventional timeframe in some of their other offseason player moves.
The sooner they can settle this situation, the better. The longer Richardson is part of this team, the more difficult a trade will be to make.
2. How will the quarterback competition be settled?
We know the Jets’ quarterback situation is up in the air. The team will have some sort of competition for the job. What are the rules of the competition? The Jets claim it will be an open competition, but what does that mean?
Will Bryce Petty have a legitimate chance to win the job? Will the team really give him as many reps with the first team as Josh McCown and Christian Hackenberg? It would be unconventional to split reps among three quarterbacks?
Will this be a truly open competition? Right now the conventional wisdom seems to be that McCown will start unless Hackenberg wows during camp and the preseason.
Todd Bowles might have played into this idea a bit when he referred to McCown as a kindergarten teacher during an offseason practice. The release of Eric Decker took away the one remaining veteran presence for a very young group of receivers. Having Decker around to teach them some of the finer points of route running could have had some value. McCown might fill in some of the gaps as a mentor.
3. What will this offense look like?
New offensive coordinator John Morton is a blank slate. He has never run an NFL offense before so nobody knows what his system will look like. We have been left to speculate for an offseason mainly based on the people who used to be his boss.
We won’t find out much based on practices, and the Jets will probably keep most of the new offense under wraps in preseason games.
The most instructive thing might be when Morton and Todd Bowles are available to the media. They might offer some ideas about how the offense is being built philosophically and which players will take on leading roles.
4. Is the veteran purge over?
Over the course of the offseason, the Jets jettisoned a great number of veteran players from longtime stalwarts like David Harris and Nick Mangold to recent free agent signings Eric Decker and Marcus Gilchrist.
Despite the youth movement, the Jets still do have some veterans on the team. Cutting some of them would save additional cap space that can be carried over to 2018.
The late cuts of Harris and Decker showed the Jets are not necessarily operating on a normal timeframe with some of their personnel decisions. That makes the status of players like Buster Skrine and Steve McLendon worth watching.
5. Are there any surprises for the PUP list?
Last year Breno Giacomini started training camp on the physically unable to perform list. It came out of nowhere. Giacomini ended up staying on the PUP list into the start of the regular season and never seemed to get fully healthy as he only played 5 games.
I am not sure that had much of an impact on the team’s struggles, but sometimes there are injury surprises as the start of training camp. It is worth watching.