The Jets Should Be Tanking for Sam Darnold in 2018, Not Acquire a QB in Free Agency


The downtrodden Jets, who haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010, did absolutely nothing on the first day of NFL free agency. This is a good thing, as I’ll soon explain.

They were used and abused as a free agent destination for quarterbacks all week – they reportedly had interest in Mike Glennon (picked Chicago), Brian Hoyer (picked San Francisco), Tyrod Taylor (stayed in Buffalo), Trevor Siemian (still in Denver), and Jay Cutler (still available!).

It feels like they’re going to stick with the two young guys they’ve drafted each of the last two years: Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg. If you’ve forgotten about either of them, it’s understandable. This happened to Petty; Hackenberg never took a snap.

I’m 100% on board with this strategy at QB. Either of those guys, combined with the release of Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis, Nick Mangold, etc, plus what’s left from the 5-11 team, puts the Jets around 2-14 or 3-13. And I’m fine with that.

That would put them in position to draft the potential #1 pick in the 2018 draft, USC star QB Sam Darnold.* He’s a redshirt freshman who turns 20 in June.

If you’re putting together a multi-year game plan for the Jets, it involves all of this. (We’ve already been over the blueprint.) You’d probably consider releasing/trading LB David Harris if possible, and consider trading Sheldon Richardson and/or Muhammad Wilkerson, too (though both of their values are too low for that now).

But the biggest problem with this plan, and how it could all blow up in the next couple weeks is pretty simple: Billionaires tend to be impatient.

The Jets coach/GM combo of Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan is probably toast in this scenario. Are they going to be cool with that? Even if there is some handshake deal between them and bumbling Jets owner Woody Johnson – hey, we’ll rebuild, just give us time – why would they trust an impatient billionaire?

In the movies, this usually works well, as the team get a mix of young and old players, chemistry is excellent and it all works out, Hollywood-style. Think Major League.

Far more likely – 3-13. How can you bring back a coach who went 10-6, 5-11, 3-13 in successive years? Would you want him – a lifelong defensive guy – tutoring your new franchise QB in 2018? And how can you bring back a GM who whiffed badly on 2nd and 4th round QBs? Answer: You can’t.

So at what point do Bowles and Maccagnan start thinking about saving their jobs?

All the equity they built up with year one was washed out by last year’s disaster, and now, year three they want to press the reset button, which is fine long term, but in the short term?

Smart Jets fans know this is the answer – punt on this season (tank! It works!) and plan for a fun future. Perhaps in 2-3 years, when they’re ready to contend with Darnold, the Patriots will no longer have Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. If the Jets had really tanked in 2014, they would have been able to draft Marcus Mariota 2nd overall (but two meaningless late-season wins prevented that), and build for a bright future. Sacrifice one bad year for 10-15 years of contending.

But why on earth would Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan sign off on tanking, which would in turn be a death sentence for their jobs? I can’t figure it out and it scares me.

* Yes, this game is played every year – 12 months before the draft, QBs look great! And then they play, with the pressure on them, and they’re all nitpicked to death, and nobody likes them anymore. But humor me and go watch the Rose Bowl highlights.