Based on the number of mailbag questions this week, New York Jets fans are really fired up for the offseason. Hey, I get it. When your team finishes 5-11 and misses the playoffs for the seventh straight year, you want to look ahead, not back.
#jetsmail even with new deals wouldn't the pressure on Mac/TB to make the playoffs next year make a FA QB like Cousins their 1st choice over drafting someone who is not ready to start? Another big miss at QB for Mac could cost him his job and ability to get another.Why risk that?— Sean Stalker (@gang_green_A2) January 12, 2018
@RichCimini: Could cost him his job? Make no mistake, general manager Mike Maccagnan will lose his job if he blows another quarterback pick.
You raise a good point, Sean, because the pressure to win can make smart people do dumb things. I've seen it time and time again in my many years of covering the Jets. From what I've observed of Maccagnan in three years, he's disciplined and methodical. He sticks to his value board, whether it's the draft or free agency. I mean, this is a guy who picked Leonard Williams even though they were loaded on the defensive line. This is the guy who drafted safeties in back-to-back rounds.
But this looming quarterback decision is a lot more complicated than a draft pick. We're talking about a multi-layered conundrum. Maccagnan must decide if Kirk Cousins is worth the money (figure at least $27 million per year and roughly $70 million guaranteed) and how it impacts their cap and roster-building in future years. At the same time, he must evaluate the top college quarterbacks and determine which ones are worth the sixth pick and which ones are worth a trade-up.
This is the hardest, most important decision he'll make as the Jets' GM.
There are some people in the building who want to take the safe route -- Cousins. He's not elite, but he's a top-15 quarterback who can get you to the playoffs if he's surrounded by a good cast. He's plug-and-play, and you can save your draft picks to fill other needs -- and there are plenty.
Yes, I expect the Jets to show interest in Cousins if he hits the open market. I've been saying that for weeks, and nothing has changed. The question is, will they get into a bidding war? That, I don't know. But if Maccagnan and Todd Bowles want to demonstrate short-term progress to ownership, Cousins is the way to go -- if Woody Johnson is willing to write the big check.
If they don't sign Cousins or another proven starter, the Jets may have to pay the exorbitant price to trade up for a quarterback. Chances are, he wouldn't be ready to start, but that doesn't mean Maccagnan and Bowles would be doomed. What if they draft Josh Allen and he rallies the team to an 8-8 record after a slow start? Do you think ownership would pull the plug on Maccagnan and Bowles? No way, not with the arrow pointed up.
For Maccagnan, it comes down to this: Forget your own situation and do what's in the best interest of the franchise. Easier said than done.