By most metrics, the New York Jets have been the most active team in the NFL since the start of the league year, spending big money in free agency and completing a trade for two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Keleschi Osemele. And they are far from done.
The Jets have let it be known that they are open for business with the third-overall pick in the draft, and I wouldn't be surprised if, for the second year in a row, they complete a draft pick swap well before the actual selection process begins. A year ago, if you recall, they made an aggressive, proactive move to deal with the Colts to move up to third overall to be in position to take the second quarterback in the draft (either Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold, depending on whom the Browns selected with the top pick). Now, with Darnold in tow and perhaps on the cusp of a breakout season, the Jets are ready, willing and eager to move down out of the third spot to secure more draft capital.
League sources say Washington is already among the teams sniffing around, and with pretty much every GM in the league wholeheartedly convinced that QB Kyler Murray is going first overall, and San Francisco likely to take its top defensive player on the board second overall (early money is on pass rusher Nick Bosa), then the Jets very well could be sitting pretty with that third pick as an avenue for a QB-needy team to jump ahead of the Giants (sixth overall) to land Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins. There is a readily-accepted drop-off in the quarterback class beyond that, and while the need is not as robust as in some past years, it only takes one team to make the move.
Would the Jets really be open to dropping down all the way to Washington's pick, way back in the middle of the first round (15th overall)? Yup. I truly believe so, for the right price. And that price would be steep. The Jets would be sacrificing a sure-fire blue chip prospect potentially in the process, but in a draft where some evaluators I've talked to believe there are 12-14 non QBs with absolute first-round grades, the Jets could still be in position to land one from that group even all the way back at 15.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has made such blockbuster moves before (RGIII, anyone?) and his quarterback situation is arguably the most bleak in the entire league, with Case Keenum and Colt McCoy being rented for a year and with Alex Smith unlikely to ever play again, but due $54M in guarantees.
If Snyder falls in love with Haskins through this process – and, I'd point out that Haskins played prep football in Snyder's backyard and that his mentor, Shawn Springs, is a former Redskins cornerback whom Snyder thinks very highly of – then he will do whatever he thinks has to do to get him. History has shown us as much, and I hear Washington is very much intrigued by the strapping pocket passer, and you just know that Snyder would take some joy in leap-frogging the NFC East rival Giants in the process.
And, I will reiterate, this is not a situation where the Jets are inclined to believe the best deal has to come right before the draft. And patience is not exactly a hallmark of the Bruce Allen reign as head of Washington's football operations (losing, however, would be). So keep an eye on this one.
Outside of the Giants and Skins, it's hard to figure anyone else makes the jump. Some execs I've chatted with believe John Elway may be open to moving up for Haskins – his pact with Joe Flacco is on a year-to-year basis at this point in the contract – though, personally, I tend to think he does not go that direction. Miami seems to be targeting the 2020 draft to solve its quarterback riddle – at the very least, giving away a bunch of picks to leap up from 13th overall would shock rival GMs at this point – and Jacksonville is paying Nick Foles like he is on the franchise tag the next two years, so grabbing a QB in the top-10 would run counter to their win-now ethos (even if winning now seems like an impossibility to their counterparts).
It's been a while since Snyder has done something splashy, and his fanbase has become among the more beaten-down and hopeless in the league (for good reason), and getting a buy-in from them wont be easy. Moving up for a potential franchise QB who threw 50 TDs a year ago at Ohio State just might help with that.
News and notes
- I've long chronicled the looming contractual conundrum facing the Seahawks over Russell Wilson, and am well on record that the time to go all out to extend him was last offseason. At this point, I frankly don't see much happening between the sides. I'm not sure there is even a deal that could be done, or a deal, if I was representing that player, that I would much consider signing, even at $40M per year. He's been remarkably durable, the franchise tag money in 2020 and 2021 would be huge and with this such a unique time in the history of the game – broadcast rights back on the negotiating table in a few years; a new CBA needed in a few years; the NFL about to embrace gambling money in a way unfathomable even a few years ago – I would be in no rush to even really talk about a new contract at this point. From everything I've gathered, this process hasn't even started and there's been no dialogue.
- The Cardinals might as well start the full-scale shopping of Josh Rosen. And no sense limiting it to just the few teams that have an apparent QB need (really only Miami and Washington at this point). Their best bet may be with a team that has an aging starter in need of a potential heir. The free-agent QB market has been thoroughly picked through at this point, and Blake Bortles and Ryan Tannehill found new teams and the QB demand is what it is. Not much will cause it to change ahead of the draft, and do right by Rosen and get him to his new home sooner rather than later.
- Heard some buzz about Wagner quarterback TJ Linta after his recent pro day. If the last name sounds familiar, yes, his father is Joe Linta, an NFL agent who helped make Joe Flacco the NFL's highest-paid player for a spell. Linta, who spent three years at Brown before transferring to Wagner for his final season, measures just under 6-foot-4 and has a big arm and has impressed scouts with his smarts and decision-making as well. Former NFL coordinator and QB coach Chris Palmer, who watched Linta go through a passing tree, said, "He clearly displayed a pro-level arm." Wouldn't be surprised if he is a late-round pick or priority un-drafted free agent at this point.