The New York Jets’ intentions are clear going into 2017. They won’t call it tanking. The players and coaches certainly are not going out there to lose. They have money and legacies on the line just like every player on the Patriots, Packers or any other contender do.
What is clear is that this team was built with all eyes on the future. It’s a roster devoid of proven production, veterans, and stabilization, in favor of youth and untapped potential.
All of this is a nice way of saying they might have the worst roster in the league entering 2017. Specifically on the offensive side of the ball. With this in mind, it’s fair to question, how many projected Jets offensive starters would start on other teams?
Quarterback - Josh McCown
We’ve all heard and seen the numbers. McCown is 2-20 in his last three seasons in Cleveland and Tampa Bay. Those two teams have picked in the top two each year he’s played with them. For his career, he has 79 touchdown passes, 69 interceptions, and 70 fumbles (29 lost).
And he’s 38 years old.
Do the math and the thinking. Looking around the league, there doesn’t seem to be a single franchise where Josh McCown would be the best option right now. Only in New York, they say. Teams: 0
Offensive Line - Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Wesley Johnson, Brian Winters, Brandon Shell
The offensive line has been one of the most scrutinized groups on the team throughout the preseason. Aside from the skill positions, the failure of the front office to build a competent line to put a young quarterback behind has been one of their biggest shortcomings.
Beachum developed a good reputation in Pittsburgh before tearing his ACL and struggling in Jacksonville. He might get attention from a handful of teams. Carpenter is perhaps the most established positive contributor on the Jets offense. Actually, I don’t even think that should be a question. He is.
James Carpenter's consistency has improved dramatically since coming to the New York pic.twitter.com/LhMby5diTG— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) July 9, 2017
Wesley Johnson is just 26 and showed decent promise in his first extended starting action at the end of last season, but has yet to show that “wow” potential and is still relatively unproven. Brian Winters did something right to earn a $29 million new contract this offseason, but has had injury and consistency issues in addition to some struggles in this year’s preseason. Even in his “career year”, he wasn’t that great. Brandon Shell was solid in his short rookie action towards the end of the year, but was only a fifth round selection and has had trouble holding off Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana.
All in all, the lack of proven production for more than a quarter of a season outside of Carpenter makes this line very unappealing. It is young, with no starters above 28, and I do think that would attract some teams. After all, Pro Football Focus reports that this line might not have been as bad as Jets Nation has made it out to be.
The Jets OL owns the 5th highest pass blocking efficiency this preseason. Team leaders:— John Gatta (@PFF_JohnGatta) August 28, 2017
Youth and untapped potential have become a sought after thing in professional sports, but not as much as what teams always have and always will crave most: production. And this line is devoid of it. I’d say maybe 2-4 teams would trade their offensive line for the Jets’. Maybe a team in deep offensive line trouble like Seattle or Cincinnati. Maybe.
Wide Receiver - Robby Anderson, Jalin Marshall, Charone Peake
This is a group that, even if unproven, has actually shown some promising flashes. Even if they have been in preseason. Robby Anderson, even going back to early in 2016, has consistently toasted corners and been missed deep. 2017 draft picks ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen have both showcased versatility and playmaking ability throughout the preseason.
However, we said it about the offensive line and we’ll say it here. There’s no production to go off of. And while there’s youth, the current starting three consists of two undrafted sophomores and a 7th round sophomore.
Any young player has untapped potential, but when your group lacks any blue chip prospects from the top of the draft there naturally isn’t as high of a ceiling. Sure, late round picks and undrafted players break out all the time. It’s just simply fact that, on average, a group of guys with the draft pedigree of the current Jets receiving group probably isn’t going to fare well. Plus, a team isn’t going to have as much patience with fulfilling the potential of those players because of the draft pick (or lack thereof) attached to their name. Look at Christian Hackenberg. He looks as lost as any player on the entire field but continues to get a shot because of one number: Two. The round he was selected in.
With all that being said, despite some legitimate promise, it’s hard to find a team that would trade their receivers for the Jets’. I don’t think a single team would make that swap.
Tight End - Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Although in the preseason the Jets did potentially show that they’ll be using the tight end more often this year, it is a group that has barely changed from the one that was clearly the league’s worst last year. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the likely starter once he returns from suspension, has had a nice offseason and has reportedly transformed himself physically and mentally, but we need to see it. It’s promising, for sure, but those stories come out every year. Remember Jace Amaro?
Behind him are Eric Tomlinson, who nobody who isn’t a Jets fan knows, and rookie Jordan Leggett. Much like the receivers, I don’t think any other team would trade their group for this one.
Running Back - Matt Forte
Forte is still decent. He’s always been a high-level pass catching back and a decent blocker. He has a great locker room and leadership reputation, so he’s got some qualities teams would find value in.
He is above the magic number of 30 and coming off of a career-worst year production wise. Career lows in rushing yards, receiving yards, and a YPC of 3.7 don’t make the best resume out there. I could see a few teams with running back problems look to start him, especially a hopeful contender like the Giants or Buccaneers. I could see 8-10 teams who would replace their current starter with Forte.
Concluding this, here is the full list of players on the Jets offense I’d feel confident in betting that over half of the league would swap their current starter for: