There’s no point in being below average in the NFL. If you’re not going to the playoffs you might as well bottom out, especially in a year before an exciting quarterback class enters the draft.
The New York Jets have seemingly figured this out. By the time Week 1 rolls around, there might not be any recognizable faces left.
Hours after the team cut linebacker David Harris, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Jets will either release or trade receiver Eric Decker this week. The timing for both moves is odd, and makes it seem like the Jets suddenly made the decision to rebuild this season. Even though Decker is 30 and played in just three games last year due to hip and shoulder injuries, he should be coveted by some teams with a need. He had 19 touchdowns in 33 career games with the Jets.
Since the end of the season, the Jets have parted ways with receiver Brandon Marshall, cornerback Darrelle Revis, center Nick Mangold, tackle Ryan Clady, Harris and Decker. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t re-signed after serving a one-year deal, and the Jets did little to address that position. The Jets were quiet in free agency, with the only signings of note being left tackle Kelvin Beachum, quarterback Josh McCown, and cornerback Morris Claiborne on a one-year deal.
Marshall, Revis, Mangold, Clady, Harris, Decker and Fitzpatrick are all aging and coming off injury-filled or disappointing seasons. But at least a few of those players could have helped the Jets this season.
The Jets appear to be willing to live through an awful season for a shot at a good draft pick next year. The top quarterback prospect is likely USC’s Sam Darnold, though Wyoming’s Josh Allen could grab that spot. Assuming the Jets are on their way to a terrible season – and it’s a good assumption at this point – they should be in position next April to draft a top quarterback. One terrible season is worth landing a franchise quarterback. Ask teams like the Indianapolis Colts or Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It probably won’t be pretty for the Jets this season. But being the worst team in the league is better than being just good enough to wreck their draft position.
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