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Reflections on the Jets-Colts trade that shakes up the 2018 NFL Draft

New York Jets Introduce General Manager Mike Maccagnan and Head Coach Todd Bowles Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images

Today’s trade between the Jets and the Colts caught me off guard. Like most of you, I am still trying to process it. While my views might change in the coming days and weeks, here are initial thoughts.

It is too early to pass final judgment positively or negatively.

I think no matter your initial viewpoint, everybody could agree that it is too soon to pass a final verdict. The Jets trading up from 6 to 3 was a means to an end, not an end itself.

This was the first in a series of moves the Jets are going to make. To be able to give a final grade to the deal, we will need to wait to see how the Draft board shakes out and the player the Jets ultimately draft.

The theory behind the trade and the value make sense on paper.

With all of this said we can judge the thought process, and I don’t see much to complain about here. The Jets need to land a long-term solution at quarterback, and obtaining one likely was going to require an aggressive trade up.

I know if you look purely at the standard Draft pick point value chart, the Jets come out behind on this trade. I might point out how random and arbitrary the chart is, but I think this is a case where any sort of point system would fail.

Whenever a team goes overboard on a free agent signing people try to rationalize it by saying things like, “That’s how the market works,” and in turn asserting that anybody who disagrees with such a deal doesn’t understand how the market works. Unfortunately it is frequently the team making the signing that does not understand how the market works and has overpaid for a player’s skillset and services.

This instance is the reverse. There is no more valuable asset in the NFL than a quality quarterback. Almost no price is too much to obtain one. Teams are willing to go above and beyond what the value chart recommends, and it is with good reason. A franchise quarterback is worth well more than three second round picks.

The Texans lost out on the fourth overall pick in this year’s Draft, which now belongs to the Browns, because of a trade they made last year. Do you think their fans regret it and would undo that trade? The answer is no because that trade got them Deshaun Watson, who they view as a long-term quarterback solution.

The timeline also makes sense.

I have seen a few people wonder aloud why the Jets would not wait until Draft night to make the deal to make sure the board falls the correct way before making a deal.

The answer to this question is simple. It made sense for the Colts to trade the third pick before the Draft. There is plenty of recent precedent. The Redskins’ trade up for Robert Griffin III, the Rams’ trade up for Jared Goff, and the Eagles’ trade up for Carson Wentz were all completed well before the NFL Draft began.

The Colts now have certainty. Had they waited until they were on the clock, something could have gone wrong. Their trade partner could have gotten cold feet. The board might have played out in a way that made their partner change its mind. There could have been some sort of other complication.

If the Colts were dead set on moving down to stockpile picks, it was smart of them to deal the pick so early. If the Jets weren’t willing to make the move now, some other team likely would have been.

The Jets having a lot of other needs is not a compelling reason to avoid making this deal.

The Jets have a lot of needs, but one need stands above all others. It is the most important need, most glaring need, and most difficult need to address. That is the need at quarterback. If the Jets don’t get that need fixed, nothing else they do matters.

Yes, this move comes at a cost. Second round picks are valuable. Giving up three second round picks is sending a lot of value out of the building. It doesn’t matter that the Jets have picked a lot of second round duds. Past picks are irrelevant. Second rounders have a lot of worth.

But it came down to a choice. I would rather build a team with a quarterback and no second round picks than no quarterback and three second round picks. The trade does increase the Jets’ odds of landing their quarterback quite a bit.

Would it be easier to fill the other needs with those picks? Yes, but there are other ways of doing so.

Mike Maccagnan is clearly 100% confident he can land a franchise quarterback.

Just because the Jets are not certain which quarterbacks will be available with the third pick does not necessarily guarantee they have made a poor deal. The Eagles did not know Carson Wentz would be on the board at the time they traded up for the second pick two years ago. Presumably, they would have been happy making Jared Goff their franchise quarterback as well.

Maccagnan most likely views three quarterbacks in this year’s class as franchise quarterbacks (or less likely view two this way and knows the Browns and/or Giants will sit still and not take a quarterback in front of him).

Au revoir Hack

The signings this week of Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater presumably brought an end to Bryce Petty’s Jets career. This trade likely does the same to the Jets career of Christian Hackenberg. The odds are now high the player the Jets used in the second round will never take a snap with the team.

It was simply a horrendous pick, but Hackenberg will go down as an obscure footnote in Jets history if Mike Maccagnan gets this year’s quarterback pick right. Nobody will care about this mistake, and everybody will forgive Maccagnan.

If the new quarterback busts, however, he will join Hackenberg and Petty in the memory of Jets fans as a trifecta representing Maccagnan’s inability to scout the most important position on the field.

A Teddy Bridgewater trade doesn’t make sense for anybody at this point.

I have seen some speculation about whether this move means the Jets are likely to trade their recently signed quarterback. I think we should hold up on this talk.

The Jets were always likely to draft a quarterback in the first round this year. We knew this a few days ago when Bridgewater was signed. So did Bridgewater.

We can presume put together the most attractive package for Bridgewater. Why just a few days later would some team be willing to give that package AND part with a Draft pick. And the Jets don’t even know for sure which quarterback they will be drafting. No matter how much you like a guy, there is always the chance you will realize after he gets into your building he isn’t ready to be a day one starter.

Fast forward a few months. Maybe at the end of the preseason the Jets have a first round quarterback ready to lead the huddle for Week 1. Maybe Bridgewater had a strong preseason that has increased his value and convinced other teams his career is back on track. Maybe with this increased value, some team offers the Jets a package they can’t refuse for Bridgewater similar to the one the Vikings offered the Eagles for Sam Bradford after Bridgewater’s injury.

Then we can start talking about a trade. Why don’t we wait until we get to that point first?