Jets' Next QB: Free Agency or the Draft?

Posted Feb 22, 2018

Examining the QB Landscape as the New League Year Looms

With a projected salary cap of over $80 million dollars and the No. 6 overall selection in April’s draft, the Jets are in a good spot to add a signal caller in either free agency, the draft or both.

As it stands, when the new league year commences at 4p.m. on March 14th, the Green & White will only have two quarterbacks under contract in Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. Adding an arm through free agency and the draft each have their pros and cons, and time will tell on what approach Maccagnan will take.

“That’s the perfect example,” SiriusXM NFL Radio’s Vic Carucci said of the Jets. “You can immediately get yourself into a cap problem when you go after a quarterback. Let’s use (Redskins QB Kirk) Cousins as the example, who would command upwards of 25-or-more million per year. That’s a big commitment. It’s easy for anyone to say spend the money. Ready cash available is something I’d say most teams have and can deal with. It’s just about how does it affect your ability to address other positions with your cap.”

Cousins, among a number of other signal callers, has an expiring contract and is set to hit the market once the new league year begins.

While Maccagnan said the Jets will be active in free agency, both he and CEO Christopher Johnson said they do not want to mortgage the future of the team with a couple of splash moves that would limit their financial flexibility in the future.

If the Green & White elect to add a quarterback through free agency, there are plenty of options. The Jets could bring back Josh McCown, who posted career highs in 2017 with 2,926 yards, 18 touchdowns and a 67.3 completion mark. Other names include Cousins, Bengals signal caller AJ McCarron and all three Vikings gunslingers have expiring contracts in Case Keenum, Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford, although observers believe only one or two will become free agents.

“With a guy like him in the latter stages of his career, are you helping yourself for the long term?” NFL Network’s Charley Casserly said of McCown. “With Cousins and anybody else, you have to look at how long this guy is our guy whereas you draft a player, you’re developing and bringing that guy along. Of course, the question becomes for the head coach and GM: am I going to be here to see that evolution?”

If the Jets find a solution at quarterback through free agency, Casserly pointed out the team could use the No. 6 overall selection at a different position, which could fill two starting spots.

If they go the draft route at QB, this year’s crop is highlighted by USC’s Sam Darnold and UCLA’s Josh Rosen, who are both projected as top five picks in April. Other top prospects include Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. While the Jets, along with a number of teams, could be considered in the market for a signal caller, that could all change once the league year turns.

MMQB's Albert Breer summed up the coming quarterback landscape: “I think a lot of what happens at the top of the draft with the quarterbacks will be dictated about what happens on the veteran market.”