Some would argue it is now a matter of when, not if, now that he has been benched. We are not yet convinced. But say they do. And say Mike White does not turn out to be a franchise quarterback hiding in relatively plain sight. At that point, the Jets will start swinging for the fences, and understandably so.
General manager Joe Douglas and coach Robert Saleh have built a very good football team faster than anyone expected. The Jets have a defense that, if not already championship-caliber, is close to it. The offensive line, when healthy, should be good enough. And there are several offensive weapons in place. They just need a quarterback. And when that is the story you can tell in the offseason, you think big.
Then reality sets in. The Ravens will likely franchise tag Lamar Jackson. If the 49ers actually let Jimmy Garoppolo walk, his market will be ultra-competitive. Tom Brady is a pipe dream. And the cost to trade for Derek Carr or Aaron Rodgers — in draft capital and/or salary cap commitment — will be high.
The Jets will pursue all of the above options (OK, maybe not Brady). But there is a good chance they will have to shift gears and sift through the veteran scrap heap. When that happens, we would argue the best Plan B might be across town.
Daniel Jones likely has not done enough to convince the Giants he is their no-doubt long-term answer at quarterback. But he has proven he can be an above-average starter. And really, that is all the Jets need. An MVP candidate would be nice, but they can get by with a competent game manager with just enough ability to burn a defense here and there. And it would be a plus if he demonstrated some level of accountability and maturity too. Jones checks those boxes.
Would there be risk to betting on Jones? Of course. While he has been sensational on both fronts this year, he does have a significant history of being injury- and turnover-prone. And while Jones is surrounded by a horrid supporting cast, it is concerning he has not done much to elevate them — something a top quarterback should be able to do.
If the Jets do give up on Wilson, they will need to take a risk to seize their window while they can. They must aim high to start. But if that fails, Jones will be the cream of the second-tier crop this offseason — and likely available on a manageable short-term deal. He is a better option than Marcus Mariota, Baker Mayfield, Mitch Trubisky or any other retread starter that could be available.
The Jets just benched Wilson because they are a 6-4 team that believes they should be 8-2. So they have an easy measuring stick to utilize moving forward: Would we have beaten the Patriots twice with this quarterback? They know they can say yes with the big names. They can also say yes, too, with Jones. And he may prove far more attainable in the end than the others. Just something to think about.
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James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]