New York Jets Jermaine Kearse
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The New York Jets have an obvious void to fill on their roster. Could Mike Maccagnan use the ‘Jermaine Kearse’ mentality to fill that need?

To say the New York Jets need help on defense would be a monumental understatement. Mike Maccagnan doesn’t have to rub his glasses off to see the deficiency on the roster.

That’s because this isn’t a new problem. The Jets don’t have a pass rush. The famed ‘Sons of Anarchy’ with Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson was more hype than reality. Now all of those guys are gone and the team still needs a pass rusher. It’s one of the true premiums in football.

But how in the heck are they going to find one in the middle of May? Good question.

They avoided drafting the position in the 2018 NFL Draft, they didn’t address it in free agency, and now the team is scratching their heads. But don’t be alarmed, ‘Magic Mike’ is here!

Just look at history. Last year the Jets had issues at the wide receiver position. Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker were jettisoned, Quincy Enunwa was ruled out for the season with a neck injury, and Robby Anderson was relatively unproven.

Maccagnan opted for an unorthodox technique to fill the gap on the roster: trade.

He was able to hit two birds with one stone (a bit inhumane, but I digress). He traded off a player in his contract year (Richardson) and received a premium asset (2018 second round pick that eventually turned into Sam Darnold) and a veteran wideout. Consider this, Jermaine Kearse was a ‘throw in’ from sources that I spoke with and the Seattle Seahawks ‘were going to cut him anyway’.

Well, that ‘throw in’ ended up having a career year: 65 receptions, 810 yards, and five touchdowns. All of those were career highs in 2017. Not too shabby Maccagnan.

So the next question is, can lightning strike twice in the same place?

I’ve spoken to scientists in the area and they’ve told me that it’s physically possible, which is a positive sign. Sadly when you look at the Jets roster they don’t have any ‘Richardsons’ on the team, meaning a tradeable asset in a contract year.

Only a few players make even remote sense and who knows what they could fetch:

  • Teddy Bridgewater: best case scenario plays really well and shows that he’s healthy and the Jets can flip him for a mid to late round pick.
  • Robby Anderson: let’s be honest with ourselves, his trade value couldn’t be worse. He’s had a slew of off the field issues (whether real or unreal) and it still creates drama. He’s under contract for another three years at under $2 million in total value, per Spotrac. It makes more sense to hold onto him and hope he turns it around as opposed to selling him off for pennies.
  • Bilal Powell: my people told me that if the Jets could’ve traded him for a high enough pick to switch him out for a younger back in the 2018 NFL Draft, they would’ve. You know when you go to the grocery store buy something, bring it back home, you try it and it’s alright but you know if you go back to the store and make a scene, you can get your money back. Yeah, you know what I mean. He’s got three more years on his team-friendly deal, the Jets should just hold onto him.

So no assets to trade, which means the Jets would have to sacrifice future draft compensation. Not an ideal way to acquire talent, especially when teams opt to build through the draft.

But more importantly who could be available for trade that would be viable? I did a deep dive into the possibilities here:

  • Shane Ray
    • After the Denver Broncos took Bradley Chubb in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, the smallest violins in the world began to play for Shane Ray in Mile High. After taking a draft day slide back in 2015, Ray ended up in Denver. In three years he has collected 13 sacks, not too shabby. Broncos are looking to move on and maximize his value.
  • Michael Johnson
    • Most of the players on this mini-list are super young, Michael Johnson is the lone exception. While he may be 31 years old, he brings some veteran savvy with him. While he’s only had one double-digit sack season, he’s been consistent and that’s what the Jets need. Over the last seven years, he’s had at least 3.5 sacks every season.
  • DeForest Buckner
    • A former top-10 pick may be hard to pry from the San Francisco 49ers, but he’s from a different regime so I’m saying there’s a chance. The Jets still have a huge void along the defensive line with Wilkerson’s departure. Buckner’s size (6-foot-7, 300 pounds) would be an ideal fit as a 3-4 end.
  • Arik Armstead
    • Two Oregon Ducks and two former 49ers first round picks are on the same list? Although Arik hasn’t had nearly the same success as his partner in crime in the NFL. Armstead is another freak of nature (6-foot-8, 280 pounds). We’ve been talking about a variety of meats, this would be more so a piece of filet mignon. Arik and DeForest would most likely cost the most in terms of compensation from the Jets.
  • Dee Ford
    • Dee Ford is entering the final year of his rookie contract (fifth-year option), but I loved his game at Auburn. He had a career year in 2016 (10 sacks) but hasn’t been able to replicate that same success. He could be had for cheap, but you don’t want to give up a lot for a rental, so you’d have to factor that into the equation.
  • Noah Spence
    • Noah Spence as the best pass rusher available in the 2016 NFL Draft. Yet he slipped into the second round, the reason being multiple failed drug tests in college. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a risk and he’s been marginal so far in the NFL, but I still believe in the tape. Could be worth a mid to late round flier.
People call me Boy Green for my unwavering dedication to all things New York Jets. I work at The Score 1260 in Syracuse and I'm extremely passionate about sports. I aspire to continue my rise through the business and hopefully I'll end up working for the New York Jets in some capacity.