AGOP season is off to a tepid start. But since I'm taking over at GM, I'm doing what's best for the long-term future of this franchise, not what the fans want.
As of this writing, OTC gives the Jets exactly $15,081,178 to spend against the cap before the Lazard signing comes into effect. I'm including Lazard, but as the contract details are currently not known aside from the years/total/guaranteed (4 years, $44 Million total, $22 Million guaranteed), I will be doing this AGOP assuming a flat cap hit of $11 Million per, leaving us with a starting cap of $4,954,511. Not ideal, but lets see what we can do.
-C.J. Mosely traded to the Browns for Kareem Hunt.
Hear me out: The Browns with Watson *think* they are in win now mode. They need help at LB, Mosely is coming off a Pro Bowl, and while having a great RB2 is nice, it's not as valuable as a starting ILB. The Jets clear Mosely's albatross of a contract and get insurance in case Breece isn't able to fully bounce back from his injury.
$18,885,511 remains against the cap
If it were up to me we never would have signed Lazard. But the deal was announced so someone needs to go; we aren't paying Davis $10.5 Million to ride the bench, and we certainly aren't benching Moore.
Redundant now that we have Chuck Clark.
$36,635,511 remains against the cap
-Connor McGovern: 3 Years, $27 Million ($9 Million Signing Bonus) ascending ($7 Million -> $9 Million -> $11 Million)
As the last major Center sitting in Free Agency, this is an absolute must even as an overpay. You can't risk going into next season hoping you draft a rookie Center an he performs out the gate.
-Kwon Alexander: 3 Years, $10 Million ($2 Million Signing Bonus) backloaded ($2.5 Million -> $2.5 Million -> $5 Million)
Kwon is a nice player, and give our current lack of LB depth is worth the overpay in the short term. Lets be real though: That 3rd year is never taking effect.
$25,348,845 remains against the cap
Yep, we're doing the draft first as the Jets are out on the major free agents. And this is a draft you have zero idea is going to turn out after the first few picks, so it's better to wait and see what falls to you, rather then overspending in free agency and boxing yourself in.
-Round 1 Pick 13: Will Levis, QB, Kentucky
And there it is! Packers play hardball with draft compensation, and we wait it out and sure enough, my top rated QB slips to 13, thanks in no small part to Richardson's combine performance. This is a pick that gets the Jets fan going "not again", but I hold Levis projects well if developed correctly. The intention is to sit him a year, meaning we'll need to go sign a guy because there is zero intent for a Zach Wilson runback (although, secretly, I am hoping for a miracle).
-Round 2 Pick 43: John Michael Schmitz, Center, Minnesota
In our ideal world, despite a strong showing at the combine Schmitz still falls to us in round 2. Thanks to the McGovern resigning he is not called upon to start immediately, allowing him to develop as the designated backup for the time being. The hope is he mans the position for us going forward for the next decade.
-Round 3 Pick 74: Cedric Tillman, WR, Tennessee
With Corey Davis gone, and Lazard and Moore both being more inside guys, the Jets will be looking to find an outside WR to pair with G. Wilson. They get that with Tilman, who falls due to having the not-greatest combine. Tillman is a big bodied receiver who fights for the ball at the point of attack who has played almost exclusively on the outside for his college career. While there some concerns about his lack of a route tree as a result of the offense he ran, the potential upside is too good to ignore at this point in the draft.
Round 4 Pick 112: Ronnie Hickman, Safety, Ohio State
We could sure use an athletic developmental safety, and we get exactly that with Hickman. Very athletic without being overly aggressive in coverage, though a bit to willing to lay a hit rather then wrap up securely. With a year or two on the bench and in limited roles could turn into quite the steal at this point in the draft.
Round 5 Pick 143: Moro Ojomo, DL, Texas
A DL/DE tweener, who shows excellent use of technique. While he projects more as a DT, he is capable of playing anywhere on the line, something that Salah may find great use for.
Round 6 Pick 207: Mohamout Diabate, ILB, Utah
A reasonably athletic ILB who shows some promise as a run stopper, though will need to add some muscle in the NFL. An absolute negative in passing situations however. Projects as a special teams player who can also come in on obvious running downs.
For rookie cap purposes, I'm just going to use the projected contract values from sportrac and call it a day: https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/draft/
Estimated rookie contracts against the 2023 cap: ~$8,368,249 Million
~$16,980,596 remains against the cap
Next step is filling out the roster. An obvious need is a bridge QB...
Post Draft Signings
-Teddy Bridgewater: 2 years, $9 Million
Nothing big here; a guaranteed chance to start for a year is about the best he can hope for, plus we're overpaying by a bit to ensure we get him.
~$12,480,596 remains against the cap
With Bridgewater and Levis, Streveler serves no purpose.
There's need to roster four TEs...
~$14,405,596 remains against the cap
...And that's it. Doing just enough to maybe compete this year, while building up the infrastructure going forward for Levis (or possibly Zach Wilson) to take the reigns in a year or two. The roster looks as follows:
QB: Teddy Bridgewater, Zach Wilson, Will Levis (R)
RB: Breece Hall, Kareem Hunt, Michael Carter, Zonovan Knight
Outside WR: Garrett Wilson, Cedric Tillman (R), Denzel Mims, Malik Taylor, Diontae Spencer
Inside WR: Elijah Moore, Allen Lazard, Irvin Charles
TE: Tyler Conklin, C.J. Uzomah, Jeremy Ruckert
OT: Mekhi Becton, Duane Brown, Max Mitchell, Greg Senat, Eric Smith
OG: Alijah Vera-Tucker, Laken Tomlinson, Chris Glaser
C: Connor McGovern, John Michael Schmitz (R), Wes Schweitzer
DT: Quinnen Williams, Tanzel Smart, Moro Ojomo (R)
DE: Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, Michael Clemons, Bryce Huff, Bradlee Anae, Marquiss Spencer
OLB: Quincy Williams, Hamsah Nasirildeen, Chazz Surratt
ILB: Kwon Alexander, Jamien Sherwood, Mohamout Diabate (R)
Outside CB: Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Bryce Hall, Justin Hardee, Craig James
Inside CB: Brandin Echols, Michael Carter II, Jimmy Moreland
Strong Safety: Chuck Clark, Ashtyn Davis, Will Parks
Free Safety: Tony Adams, Ronnie Hickman (R)
K: Greg Zuerlien
P: Braden Mann
LS: Thomas Hennessy
There's still room for improvement; the DT and LB rooms could use a definite upgrade. Camp competition at Kicker/Punter would also be nice. Some of the remaining ~$14 Million could be used to address those needs. I prefer to keep that money free; this team isn't winning a Super Bowl this year (shocking, I know), and is instead building for a future around Will Levis. That means this year in particular is an infrastructure year; clearing out some of the bad contracts and getting the players who will contribute three years down the line, while doing enough to compete now and stay competitive in a very top-heavy AFC. This won't be a popular approach, but one that sets us up for sustained success down the road.