We are one week away from the official start of the NFL’s legal tampering period, and nine days away from the first free agency contracts being announced. Tomorrow is the franchise tag deadline: however, there is talk of it being moved due to the NFL’s television contracts not being finalized in time for the NFL to set an accurate salary cap number. As it currently stands, the cap is set at $180M, and the New York Jets are projected to have $77M in cap space before any cuts or trades.
Cap Space at the Beginning of League Year: $77M
Draft Picks: 2nd, 23rd, 34th. 66th, 86th, 103rd, 143rd, 151st, 184th
As we begin my dream offseason, what better place to start than by acquiring your franchise QB and replenishing your draft chest with two other trades:
The New York Jets trade the 2nd overall pick and the 34th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and their first rounder and second rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft, and DL Quinnen Williams to the Houston Texans for QB Deshaun Watson
Cap Space: minus $5M
The New York Jets trade WR Jamison Crowder to the Philadelphia Eagles for the 70th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Cap Space: +$10M
The New York Jets trade QB Sam Darnold and the 23rd pick in the NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers for the 12th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and a 4th rounder in the 2022 NFL Draft
Cap Space: +9M
These three trades accomplish, what I assume, are three obvious things: they acquire a 25 year old franchise QB while still allowing you to hold on to a first rounder this year and in 2022. This offer was proposed by John McClain on Badlands this past weekend and, to me, it is an absolute no-brainer. Deshaun Watson hasn’t even entered the prime of his career yet and he’s already a top 5 QB in this league. People forget that Watson had perennial MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes down 24-0 in the playoffs before the Texans defense and his former Head Coach choked the game away. This past year, he had his best statistical season despite the Texans trading away his best Wide Receiver and the Texans defense absolutely stinking up the place. You get Watson, and suddenly you contend for banners instead of mock drafts. Trading Jamison Crowder, an expensive slot WR entering the final year of his deal, for a high 3rd rounder after you traded two picks in the top 34 for Watson lets you still have 4 total swings in the top 100 to add around what you bring in for free agency and your new QB. The third piece of this is using Sam Darnold and the pick you have from Seattle to go up to the 12th pick in a move that allows for Sam Darnold to compete with Jimmy Garropolo and gets you right outside the top 10 in case a blue-chip prospect falls. I’d make these moves before free agency begins, so I can pitch free agents on us having our QB and what the plan is to not just compete this year but next year and the following year as well.
Cap Space Following Trades: $91M
OG Alex Lewis, +5.3M
OG Greg Van Roten, +3.2M
TE Ryan Griffin, +1.8M
TE Trevon Wesco, +2.2M
Lewis and Van Roten were awful last year, and this paves the way for Connor McCovern to slide over to one of the guard spots. Ryan Griffin and Trevon Wesco were virtually useless, and you save $4M by cutting them both.
Cap Space Following Cuts: $103.5M
Franchise Tag: Marcus Maye ($11.1M, -11.1M)
Re-Sign: Brian Poole (2 years/$14M, 9.8M guaranteed, -5.6M)
Analysis: Marcus Maye’s agent may not like it, but you don’t pay big money to 28 year old safeties that only recently started to show they can stay healthy. You, also, don’t complain about it on social media by lying about all-pro votes your client didn’t receive. Either way, i’d tag Maye because the safety number is so low. The Jets, also, only have one cornerback who showed he could start next year so keeping Poole is a priority in a system that needs corners.
Cap Space Entering Free Agency: $86.8M
RB Jamaal Williams (119 CAR/505 YDS/4.2 YPC: 3/24M/12M guaranteed, -6M
WR Chris Godwin (65 REC/840 YDS/7 TDs): 5 years/80M/56M guaranteed, -9.6M
OG Joe Thuney (1 QBD allowed every 24 snaps): 4/68M/47.6M guaranteed, -11.9M
C Corey Linsley (1 QBD allowed every 72 snaps): 4 years/68M/51.2M guaranteed, -11.2M
CB Richard Sherman (69.6 QBR Allowed): 2/26M/18.2M guaranteed, -10.4M
EDGE Romeo Okwara (10 sacks: 5/65M/45.5M guaranteed, -7.8M
TE Zach Ertz (36 REC/335 YDS/1 TD): 2 years/16M/12.8M guaranteed, -6.4M)
I nab a potential starting RB in Jamaal Williams, who has already shown he can produce in a Lafleur Offense. I steal an ascending number one-caliber WR from the Super Bowl champions in Chris Godwin, who is young enough to grow with your franchise QB and is good enough to draw attention away from a developing Denzel Mims. Joe Thuney and Corey Linsley are really where you break the bank in the short and long term: both are elite talents that fortify your interior and still have alot of football left. These two signings give you an OL of Becton, McGovern, Linsley, Thuney, and Fant: I run a 8.2 40 and i’d run for 1000 yards behind them. Adding Zach Ertz is meant to push Chris Herndon, but to also give this offense the ability to utilize two-TE sets with both of them on the field. I think Ertz still has something left in the tank and would be a reliable target in the middle of the field for Deshaun Watson.
On defense, I finally give the Jets an edge rusher (one who had a quarterback disruption every six snaps, an absurd rate) and bring in a future Hall of Famer to solidify the cornerback room. Okwara slides right into Saleh’s 4-3 defense and, at 26 years old, is just entering the prime of his career. Sherman, Bryce Hall, and the now resigned Brian Poole gives you something to work with in the secondary.
With the 12th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye
Analysis: Two trade offers came in while we were on the clock, but they would’ve had us fall all the way back to the end of Round One. Rejecting those trades, we sit at 12 and select Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye. Paye has an insanely high ceiling and, paired with free-agent signing Romeo Okwara, he can contribute year one. His improvement from 2019 to 2020 is absolutely impressive, and should give the Jets alot of excitement around taking him at 12 here. Douglas follows up his first draft’s homerun swing with another here in round one.
Trade: The New York Jets trade the 6th pick in the third round to the Los Angeles Chargers for the 13th and 33rd picks in the third round.
I make this trade to net an additional third rounder while only falling down seven picks and only giving up the pick I got from the Eagles for Jamison Crowder.
With the 66th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Oklahoma State WR Tylan Wallace
Analysis: Amari Rodgers was on the board here, but I opt for the weapon from Oklahoma State in Tylan Wallace. A James Kuntz favorite on DraftSZN, Wallace excelled in run-pass option plays in the Oklahoma State offense and won 50-50 balls pretty consistently. With Wallace’s explosiveness down the field, this allows for LaFleur to move Chris Godwin and Denzel Mims all over the formation as he stretches the field even with average speed.
WIth the 77th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select USC DL Jay Tufele
Analysis: I take the replacement for Quinnen WIlliams here as the USC prospect slides in seamlessly to the Jets 4-3 front. Tufele can play in multiple fronts, is athletic, and wins one on ones consistently. He’s explosive and disruptive despite letting his pads get too high sometimes, and he’d be a great addition to JFM and FF.
With the 86th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select North Carolina RB Javonte Williams
Analysis: A three down RB that can compliment Jamaal Williams in this offense, Javonte is a steal this late. With his incredible vision and ability to hit the hole decisively, he gives the Jets offense another weapon in the passing game as well. With me signing Jamaal to a short contract, Javonte can take over the full-time starting RB role going forward.
With the 97th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Missouri LB Nick Bolton
Analysis: Bolton displayed excellent coverage skills at Missouri, and he still has another level to unlock in that part of his game. He is athletic and kind of reminds me of LB Kwon Alexander, who was really good in Saleh’s defense. Bolton loves to deliver the lumber when he meets ballcarriers, and learning behind CJ Mosley gives him a chance to contribute situationally next year.
With the 107th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select TCU S Trevon Moehrig
Analysis: In franchise tagging Marcus Maye, I have shown that I don’t value him long-term here, and drafting his replacement is key. Drafting Moehrig this late is a steal, in my opinion, as he has the potential to partner with Ashtyn Davis to create a versatile and ball hawking safety duo. Moehrig is reliable in man coverage and in zone, and is also a violent tackler.
With the 147th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Minnesota CB Benjamin St-Juste
Analysis: One of my favorite cornerback prospects in the draft, St-Juste is a long prospect in the Richard Sherman vein, and could learn behind Sherman before potentially taking over the following year or the year after. He fits a cover three scheme well and the things he does well already are really uncoachable traits.
WIth the 155th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select ECU OT D’Ante Smith
Analysis: D’Ante has shown good mobility and hand usage on film, and is a developmental prospect that can play RT for the Jets long-term. With the decision to keep George Fant, one of the mistakes Jets General Managers have made in the past is to not plan for when veterans leave. Smith can provide some depth behind Fant while developing to take over at RT.
WIth the 188th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select SMU TE Kylen Granson
Analysis: This isn’t the best TE class, but with the addition of Ertz in free agency to pair with Chris Herndon it isn’t a huge need. However, Granson is an athletic TE who displays good concentration and good playmaking abilities. He’s not a great blocker, but is excellent as a pass catching weapon.
WIth the 249th pick in the NFL Draft, the New York Jets select Arkansas QB Feleipe Franks
Analysis: James Morgan was not a good player, and the Jets would be wise to find a developmental QB that can be the long-term backup for Watson. Frank is decent in the short areas and has an alright arm, and really projects as a long-term backup. After transferring to Florida, Franks could be the answer at backup QB.
Depth Chart Post-Draft (*denotes rookies):
QB: Deshaun Watson, James Morgan, Feleipe Franks*
RB: Jamaal Williams, Javonte WIlliams*, Ty Johnson, Lamical Perine
WR: Chris Godwin, Denzel Mims, Tylan Wallace, Braxton Berrios, Lawrence Cager
TE: Chris Herndon, Zach Ertz, Kylen Granson*
OT: Mehki Becton, George Fant, Chuma Edoga, D’Ante Smith*
OG: Joe Thuney, Connor McGovern, Cameron Clark, Connor McDermott
C: Corey Linsley, James Murray
DE: Romeo Okwara, John Franklin-Myers, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips
DT: Foley Fatukasi, Jay Tufele*, Tanzel Smart
OLB: Kwity Paye*, Bryce Huff, Jabari Zuniga
ILB: CJ Mosley, Nick Bolton*, Harvey Langi, Blake Cashman
CB: Richard Sherman, Bryce Hall, Brian Poole, Benjamin St-Juste, Blessaun Ausrtin
S: Marcus Maye, Ashtyn Davis, Trevon Moehrig
Obviously getting Deshaun Watson is the prize here, but fortifying the offensive line with Corey Linsley and Joe Thuney is not to be scoffed at as it allows for Watson to be kept upright. As good as folks think Thuney has been, Linsley has been even better. Chris Godwin to pair with Denzel Mims gives you two wide receivers under the age of 25, while adding Zach Ertz as a reliable middle of the field option allows you to bring Tylan Wallace around slowly. The RB group is rounded out with backs that compliment each other really well.
On defense, you’ve added two edge rushers to a group that had zero last year. You’ve, also, added the heir apparent to CJ Mosley in Bolton, and have added a stabilizing presence at corner. With Moehrig on the back end, you can play Davis closer to the line because Moehrig can cover space in a cover three scheme, He’s also a good enough tackler that you can play him closer to the line also.
One week before free agency, this is the way. Plan A? It’s been Deshaun Watson all along.