Kirk Cousins, Sam Bradford, NFL
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The New York Jets enter the 2018 offseason with many options to choose from to build their roster for future success. What will GM Mike Maccaganan do with his second chance to build a winner?

Entering the 2017 season, a significant issue for the New York Jets was who was going to lead them behind center. Josh McCown was terrific in his first season with the Jets, completing just over 67 percent of his passes while throwing for just under 3,000 yards, 18 TDs and only nine interceptions in his 13 starts. However, his age prevents him from being the Jets quarterback of the future.

Bryce Petty was given three starts in 2017 to show that he could lead this franchise beyond this season. His performance has not provided the front office or coaches any reason to believe that he can. Petty completed just under 50 percent of his passes in his three starts this season while throwing just one TD to three INT.

The Jets went 0-12 on third down Sunday against the Patriots. That marked the first time since Dec. 14, 1996, against the Philadelphia Eagles, that the Jets did not convert a third down. The offense under Petty failed to generate any consistency.

Despite all the hoopla concerning Christian Hackenberg, the Jets did not think he was worthy of receiving any regular season playing time for the second consecutive season. I think it is safe to say that the Jets do not have much confidence in Hackenberg being the quarterback of the future.

Observing how the 49ers have performed under Jimmy Garoppolo has changed the tune of many teams looking for franchise quarterbacks in the offseason. Garoppolo is a free agent and will have many teams auctioning for him. The Jets could have had the advantage in the negotiations if they had had the foresight to trade for him, although I’m sure the Patriots would have upped the ante if the Jets were interested and it would have cost them significantly more than it cost the 49ers.

Garoppolo is the property of the 49ers right now, and they hold the key to what his future will be. They can franchise him, and no one else can get a chance to sign him. They also have significantly more salary cap room than most teams (around $116 million) and it would be a major shock if they let him test the free agent market without offering him the most money.

What does this mean for the Jets?

There have already been rumors that the Jets are interested in bringing back Josh McCown. While that would be a great backup plan, McCown obviously is not the long-term answer for the Jets. If the Jets re-sign McCown, that would pretty much mean that they will be looking for a franchise quarterback in the NFL draft.

The Jets sit in the sixth position for the 2018 NFL draft. Looking at the teams ahead of them, the Browns own two of the first four picks, and they will use one of them to draft a quarterback, most likely Sam Darnold with the first selection. While the Giants have given no definite answer that Eli Manning is a goner, that is most likely the case, and even if it wasn’t, I’m sure the Giants will be using their number two pick to select a quarterback.

That leaves the Broncos as the other team perched ahead of the Jets. Denver should use their pick to draft a quarterback. Who they select will determine what the Jets will do. If all the mock drafts hold up, both Josh Rosen and Darnold will be gone by the time Denver picks. If the Broncos choose Baker Mayfield, then the Jets might forego drafting a quarterback in the first round.

The Jets’ history of drafting quarterbacks in the first round is not very good.

It’s beyond discouraging. While the Jets’ draft history isn’t something to inspire documentaries of inspirational success, their history of quarterbacks is especially disturbing.

New York Jets
Quarterbacks Selected in First Round
Playoff     Wins
2009 Mark Sanchez 5th 4
2000 Chad Pennington 18th 2
1983 Ken O’Brien 24th 0
1976 Richard Todd 6th 2
1965 Joe Namath 1st 2

If there is a more misleading stat than Mark Sanchez’s four playoff wins, I would love to know. After winning four road playoff games and compiling a record of 19-12 during his first two regular seasons, Sanchez and the Jets failed to build off a promising start. Sanchez went 14-17 in his next two seasons and, after a preseason injury in 2013, he was released following the season.

Chad Pennington had a promising career before arm injuries ruined his ability to connect with his receivers consistently. Pennington won 44 of his 81 regular season starts with the Jets in his eight-year career, while also leading the Jets to a pair of playoff victories in 2002 and 2004. He also led the Jets to one of their two division titles in franchise history since the merger.

Ken O’Brien put up fantastic regular season statistics in 1985 and 1986, but injuries and poor postseason performances prevented him from realizing his full potential.

Richard Todd struggled early on in his career with Gang Green, but he put together two great seasons in 1981 and 1982, winning 17 of his 25 regular season starts. However, after leading the Jets to the 1982 AFC Championship Game, Todd never recovered from his pathetic five-interception performance in the Jets’ 14-0 loss to Miami.

While everyone remembers Joe Namath’s famous guarantee that led to the Jets’ only Super Bowl appearance and victory in Super Bowl III, that was Namath’s final postseason win. The Jets just played in one other playoff game with Namath, and he finished his career under .500 as a starting quarterback (60-61-4) while throwing 45 more interceptions than touchdowns (170 TD – 215 INT).

Not drafting a QB in the first round in the 2018 NFL Draft wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.

If the Jets’ man is not there at number six, there is no reason to panic. With over $80 million in projected salary cap space, the Jets could look to free agency if they choose. Kirk Cousins is obviously the most attractive free agent available if the 49ers don’t have a brain fart and let Garoppolo test the free agent market.

Another free agent choice could be Case Keenum of Minnesota. One thing that prevents this from being a no-brainer is that Keenum did not have much success before this season.

Case Keenum
NFL Career
2013-16 *2017
W-L as Starter *9-15 *11-3
Completion Pct. *58.4 *67.6
TD-INT *24-20 *22-7
Total QBR *40.6 *71.4

If the Jets go the free agent route, that will allow them to take another impact defensive player like Minkah Fitzpatrick (if the Browns don’t select him at number four) or Bradley Chubb.

This also doesn’t mean that the Jets can’t target another quarterback later in the draft, like Mason Rudolph, Luke Falk or Lamar Jackson.

Maccagnan gets a second chance to rebuild team

When he was hired in 2015, GM Mike Maccagnan had around $50 million in cap space to spend on free agents. He chose to bring in veterans that eventually did not work out. In 2018 he gets another chance to rebuild this team with even more salary cap room. Maccagnan says the Jets will be active in the free agent market. Let us hope that he has learned his lesson and will make better decisions this time around.

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