As speculation continues to swirl about what direction the Jets will take at quarterback in March and April, general manager Mike Maccagnan was asked about his team's signal-caller situation here at the NFL Scouting Combine.
"We're excited about the players that are potentially in pro free agency if they make it to the market," he said. "We're also excited to see what the draft prospects look like. I don't think we are solely focused on the quarterback, but it's definitely a position of interest for us and we're going to evaluate this process going forward and see what happens."
The list of veterans around the league with expiring contracts includes Kirk Cousins (WAS), AJ McCarron (CIN) Case Keenum (MIN), Teddy Bridgewater (MIN) and Sam Bradford (MIN). Josh McCown is coming off the best year of his career and he has told numerous media outlets that he would have an interest in returning.
But the Jets also own the sixth overall selection in the draft and they could elect to add to their QB stable early in April. They will get a chance to talk to a number of top passers this week during a formal interview process in Indianapolis. This is considered a talented QB class and many expect Sam Darnold (USC), Josh Rosen (UCLA), Josh Allen (Wyoming) and Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) to all be selected in the first round.
"It's sort of like a 15-minute little dating experience you have with them," Maccagnan said of the interviews. "You get a small window with them. In some cases you get more exposure to these players when you go to their pro days and are around them in that environment. Sometimes we'll schedule private workouts with them, sometimes we'll bring them in for visits to our facility. So we get a lot more opportunities to see them, but at least it gives you that little window of 15 minutes to get a feel for their personalities a little bit, ask them some key questions, but it's really a small part in the bigger scheme of things."
When asked specifically about Mayfield, Maccagnan reiterated that he didn't want to reveal any of his thoughts on individual players.
"Obviously he was a very prolific and productive college quarterback, so we're excited to see how he performs here with all of the other quarterbacks in the draft class," he said.
Well before the draft, Maccagnan will add to his foundation through free agency. The Jets increased their cap room Wednesday with the release of veteran DL Muhammad Wilkerson.
"With contracts of that size, there are expectations of performance, and then really what you do is you have to go back and look at how you allocate your resources," Maccagnan said of the transaction. "Unfortunately, it was kind of a tough decision for us to make, but the way we originally structured the contract gave us sort of a two-year window to make that determination. Again, we wish things worked out differently, but we had to make a decision to move forward. We do wish Mo all the best, but obviously we have a lot of cap space and the ability to go do stuff with that this year, so we're kind of looking at the bigger picture on that."
Minus Wilkerson, Maccagnan expressed confidence in the defensive line group currently on the roster and said the Jets had other positions they are more focused on heading into the offseason. He added that he has had frank conversations with WR Robby Anderson and OLB Dylan Donahue following their offseason arrests, saying the organization will address the situations in due course while maintaining his belief in their vetting process.
But as February ended on this peaceful day in America's Heartland, Maccagnan hinted the Jets are ready to make some noise once the league year commences on March 14.
"We'll be very active on the first day in terms of the higher-profile guys," he said. "But I think the one thing I noticed about the NFL this year or in the past years is that the free agency moves very quickly. So if you have guys you're targeted and you have your arranged right how you value him, I think we're going to be very active. We may sign a big-ticket guy, we may sign a small-ticket guy. We'll just see how it plays out, but I think we're going to be very active in free agency."