NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — General manager Mike Maccagnan has said all along he has a Plan B. Well, he’s going to need to use it.
Forever in search of a franchise quarterback, the Jets had hoped to lure Kirk Cousins, by far the highest-profile signal-caller to hit free agency in a very long time, to Florham Park, New Jersey. Money wasn’t thought to be an issue, as the Jets are approximately $90 million under the 2018 salary cap, according to ovethecap.com
However, Cousins was expected to accept a fully guaranteed three-year, $84 million offer from the Minnesota Vikings, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported on Tuesday. Free agents can begin signing with teams at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
Never before had a player received a fully guaranteed contract in the NFL. In addition to the finances, the Vikings’ case was likely also helped by the fact that they are currently one of the best teams in the league. This past season, Minnesota, with Case Keenum under center, advanced to NFC Championship game before losing to the eventual Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Now that it appears Cousins will replace Keenum as their starter, the Vikes will undoubtedly be on the short list of championship contenders in 2018.
The Jets, on the other hand, have arguably one of the least talented rosters in the NFL. They are coming off their second straight 5-11 season and have not made the playoffs since 2010.
So now what?
Well, it appears Maccagnan and head coach Todd Bowles have put a contingency plan in place. Later Tuesday, the Jets agreed to a one-year, $10 million deal with 15-year veteran Josh McCown, according to his agent, Mike McCartney.
The Jets are also pursuing 25-year-old Teddy Bridgewater in free agency, according to various reports. They are also expected to use the sixth pick in the draft on a quarterback, giving them multiple options beyond the upcoming season. At this point, it would seem highly unlikely that Maccagnan would avoid picking a quarterback in the first round, but, then again, the Jets have selected a defensive player in the first round every year since taking quarterback Mark Sanchez in 2009.
Assuming a quarterback is their first order of business in the draft, the Jets might need to trade up to get any of the big three — UCLA’s Josh Rosen, USC’s Sam Darnold or Wyoming’s Josh Allen. Many mock draft have New York taking Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield at No. 6. No matter who the Jets pick, they’ll need to cultivate a good young quarterback, something they have failed to do for years.
The Jets also have many other holes to fill, so from that standpoint Cousins choosing the Vikings is a positive. Maccagnan will likely use much of his cap space to rebuild the offensive line, which is in dire need of a makeover. Also, expect the GM to try to revamp the offensive line, cornerback and possibly wide receiver.