Happy Flag Day. On this date 240 years ago, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Stars and Stripes as the country’s flag.
Having exactly nothing to do with Flag Day, I read a “thought piece” yesterday on this question:
- Could a team of current NFL free agents beat the Browns or the Jets?
My reaction to that was simple and two-fold:
- Who cares?
- At least this is a different spin on the hackneyed “think pieces” trying to assert that Alabama or whatever college team is ranked #1 at the time could beat the worst team in the NFL.
What caught my attention, however, was that the author cited 2 NFL teams as sufficiently bad – on paper – to merit inclusion in the hypothetical race to the bottom. We know the Browns stunk last year winning only one game with a roster full of question marks regarding NFL talent. We also know that the Jets were miserable last year and that they are still in search of the “Franchise QB replacement” for Joe Namath. [FYI, he left the Jets for the Rams after the 1976 season.] So, I started to take a look at what the Jets had done so far in this off-season; and based on a quick glance, they may indeed be in as bad shape as the Browns or the Niners or the Bears.
The Jets will never announce that they are tanking the season but they are clearly tearing down the roster that they had and starting from a point not unlike an expansion team. One report that I read said that the Jets got rid of $68M in salary with their veteran cuts in this off-season; I will take that as a fact and not try to verify all the cuts and all the salary numbers associated with those cuts. Here are some of the veterans who were on the Jets’ roster in 2016 who are not on the Jets’ roster as of this morning:
- Ryan Clady OT: Clady is only 30 years old so you would think he has some tread left on his tires. He did suffer a shoulder injury last year that sent him to the DL late in the season and he had a knee injury earlier in his career. He is still a free agent so maybe that injury history is significant?
- Eric Decker WR: Decker is 29 years old and only played 3 games last year due to injury. However, in his 2 previous seasons with the Jets, he averaged more than 990 yards receiving. Decker was only released last week so his future whereabouts are not yet determined.
- Marcus Gilchrist S: Gilchrist is only 28 years old and seemed to play well last season. He will find work somewhere else.
- David Harris ILB: Harris 33 years old and has been with the Jets since 2007 – his entire time in the NFL. His age probably does not fit with any sort of “long-range projection” for the team and its roster but David Harris can still play somewhere. Like Eric Decker, his separation from the Jets only happened a week ago; it remains unclear where he will surface.
- Nick Mangold C: Mangold is 33 years old and has been part of the Jets’ OL for his entire career. If, in fact, the Jets’ braintrust is working on a 5-year plan to rebuild the roster, it would not make a lot of sense to work around a center who would be 38 at that time. Like Clady, Nick Mangold remains a free agent; if my contract research is correct, he was scheduled to make $9M in 2017 with the Jets and if that is what he is seeking in a new contract as a free agent, perhaps the price tag is why he is still “unemployed”.
- Brandon Marshall WR: Marshall is 33 years old and has been with the Jets for 2 seasons. In those years, he has averaged about 1150 yards receiving. Marshall signed a new deal with the NY Giants in March 2017 soon after he became a free agent.
- Calvin Pryor S: Pryor is only 24 years old and has been with the Jets for 3 seasons. Reports say that he has not lived up to his potential as a first-round pick in 2014; I would not know about that. Pryor was traded from the Jets to the Browns for Demario Davis who used to be with the Jets but then signed on with the Browns. Now he is back with the Jets…
- Darrelle Revis DB: Revis is 31 years old and it was not too long ago that he was one of the top 3 defensive backs in the NFL. Last season, however, was not his finest hour. The question hanging in the air is whether he has lost a step and should be willing to covert to playing safety or if the defensive scheme(s) last year did not set him up to succeed. Rumors have Revis going to the Cowboys – but he is not signed there yet.
This is not an exhaustive list of the players who were Jets but are no longer Jets but it demonstrates that a team that won only 4 games last year has jettisoned (sorry about that) a significant portion of its starting talent. The Jets’ GM says that these roster moves are intended “to create opportunities for a lot of players on the roster”. I should say so; three quarters of the Jets’ starting defensive backfield from last year are gone. There are indeed opportunities for young players on the Jets’ roster but the key question is this:
- Is there enough talent among the young/replacement players to make up for the talent and experience that is now on the free agent market?
Sunday October 8, 2017 will be Week 5 of the NFL season. On that day, the NY Jets will venture forth to play the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland. That game should have exactly no bearing on playoffs or tie-breakers, but it could well have a significant impact on the draft order in the Top 3 of the 2018 NFL Draft…
Finally, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Former NFL agent Terry Watson pleaded guilty to giving cash to three former North Carolina football players.
“In keeping with tradition, they had tutors take it for them.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports …